By Lucy Archuleta
For The HERALD
This is a story about the flood in 1967 that devastated the pueblo of Monticello, previously known as La Cañada Alamosa.
The two local newspapers –including The Herald– in the closest town, Truth or Consequences, formerly known as Hot Springs, covered the story. I have those stories saved, but I choose instead to write this story from my own recollection.
Sometime in the 1960s, my brother-in-law, Darwin Bourguet, who had married mi hermana mayor (my older sister), Remedios (Remy), bought the old family homestead where he had been raised.
They lived there for a very short time before deciding to move to a house they owned in town close to La Plaza in Monticello. They had corrals in the old homestead and continued to use those. The houses were about a mile apart, so it was a short walk or ride if you wanted to go there to get a horse to ride.
Darwin, now in his 80s, recalls wrapping up a day of branding cattle at the ranch and rushing back to Monticello as a “huge cloud came and began to pour water by the tons.”
“We left immediately for home in Monticello and we also went to the town square, which was full of water,” he remembers to this day. “The San Ignacio Catholic Church was also filling with floodwater.”
After checking on nearby neighbors and property within Monticello, Bourguet’s attention quickly turned to the Carrasco family – Fernando and Rufina, and their daughter, Miranda – further downstream.
As the mother and daughter later recounted following their tragic and harrowing ordeal, the family was eating supper when they heard the loud roar of rising floodwater.
Rain and hail began falling. Señor Carrasco immediately left the table to get his jacket so he could check on the horses. Las mujeres (the ladies) pleaded with him to stay inside. There was nothing he could do for the horses. Best to forget them and concentrate on saving themselves. Los caballos were in the middle of the arroyo. They would be the first to go. But Mr. Carrasco knew what he had to do and he could not be dissuaded from his task. He needed those horses to make a living. He had to try and save them.
Las mujeres helped him put his heavy clothing on: a jacket with a furry thick hood and wool scarves for his neck. In his right hand he carried un farolito (a candle). He fought to open the door against the wind. He gave the women one more glance before slipping out the door. He was never seen alive again.
The women put all their weight against the door and pushed. Gracias a Dios! They were able to close la puerta. They looked out the window toward the corrals, but it was dark with a heavy pelting rain and the loud roar of the arroyo. They could see Mr. Carrasco’s light bobbing in the mighty deluge. They tracked his flickering light for a little while, but soon lost track of it in the distance.
They turned from the window and began clearing the kitchen table of their untouched dinner. They put it in the refrigerator. They were not hungry anymore.
Señora Carrasco had her rosario (rosary) in her hand and had been praying since she heard the roar. What to do? Best to stay put and see if El Señor returned. If they went outside, they would not get very far. They had nowhere to go.
Mrs. Carrasco had lit a lamp and put it on the table so they had a little light. In a split second, the roof and walls, which were made of adobe, collapsed. The women were both hit and partially buried by the mud and freezing water that rushed in. The room was in total darkness now.
They hollered one to another and were relieved to hear each other. Each woman gave a brief report on her condition. La hija (daughter) told her Mama to stay put while she dug herself out. It took awhile before she was able to throw the boards off her and push the mud away. Soon the daughter was free.
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