West Texas family killed in New Mexico flash flood, mudslide
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Hale County, Texas family is grieving after three of their family members were killed in flash flooding in New Mexico on Thursday, July 21.
Jane Cummings, 62, from Hale Center, and her mother, 84-year-old Betty Greenhaw, from Cotton Center were found dead in the Tecolote Creek channel near Las Vegas.
The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the deaths Friday but did not release the names of the victims. Monday, Cummings’ daughter, Michelle Post, confirmed that it was her mother and grandmother who died in the flood and that her father, 62-year-old Chris Cummings, was missing. Chris’s body was found on July 26, 2022.
Post says her family has a cabin in the Tecolote Canyon on the Camp Blue Haven property. She says her family had been warned of flash flooding because of the burn scars from the Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon Fire, but never thought something like this could happen, or happen that fast. She says the flood destroyed the cabin within minutes.
The National Weather Service issued a Flood Watch Thursday, warning that thunderstorms producing high rainfall over the Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon burn scar in Mora County and San Miguel County could lead to localized flash flooding.
Greg Greenhaw, Betty’s son, says their family cabin had flooded at a low level before with minimal damage, and they prepared for flooding by placing sandbags, but they never expected eight feet of water to rush into the cabin.
Post says her parents and grandmother were the only people in the cabin at the time, ‘their favorite place in the world,’ spending time with family.
She says there is a family that lives about 100 yards up the mountain. A man there told her he heard the water rush in, turned around and water had already covered the entire front door. Greenhaw says the flood took out two walls, and half of two other walls.
The family says Camp Blue Haven staff were the first to hear the flooding and started searching for the family. They found Greenhaw’s truck about a half mile down the road.
Originally, they thought the family may have been inside the truck and got out, but the truck doors were locked. They then found Jane about two miles from the Blue Haven Camp, and four miles from the cabin.
Betty was found about a half mile away from the cabin. Chris’ truck was found buried outside the cabin. Post says investigators have been keeping her updated on the search for her father.
Post says the cabin has been a vacation and holiday home for her family for more than 60 years. In 1965, Greg’s grandmother signed a 100-year lease, when Camp Blue Haven started leasing out plots to help fund the camp. Post says all of her cousins were baptized at the camp, and that her son was there for camp just two weeks ago.
Greg says between the two canyons, there were about 60 cabins. He says about 25 of them burned in the Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon Fire.
Part of the family is in New Mexico, now gathering belongings. Post is in Plainview, where she and her family lives. She says her family is lost, broken and doesn’t know what to do.
She says she is thankful for her community for showing up for her family.
She says there are people in Plainview, Hale Center, Lockney, and New Mexico all supporting them right now. She says her church family, and her son’s teachers at Plainview Christian Academy have all been pitching in to deliver meals, and help them get through this time.
She ended the conversation with the words, “God is good.”
Greenhaw says the Blue Haven community has been very supportive, searching for their family, gathering their things and consistently checking in.
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