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Whatcom County communities threatened by potential flooding take action

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Volunteers spent hours filling sacks with sand, many while standing in a deluge of rain, so that others could use them to divert expected flood waters to protect their property.

Volunteers gathered today, November 14th, in Sumas and Everson to provide filled sandbags to lines of vehicles that showed up.

Volunteers gathered behind City Hall in Sumas to fill sand bags in anticipation of a flood event (November 14, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News
Volunteers gathered behind City Hall in Sumas to fill sand bags in anticipation of a flood event (November 14, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News
Volunteers gathered at the Everson City Shop to fill sand bags in anticipation of a flood event (November 14, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News
Volunteers gathered at the Everson City Shop to fill sand bags in anticipation of a flood event (November 14, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News

The effort was in response to ever-worsening Nooksack River level forecasts that foretold of flooding that left Everson, Nooksack and Sumas inundated by floodwaters and debris during what has been called the “Super Bowl flood” of 2020.

Sandbags in place to protect a Sumas business from potential floodwaters (November 14, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News
Sandbags in place to protect a Sumas business from potential floodwaters (November 14, 2021). Photo: Whatcom News

River level forecasts at 4pm at points along the North and South Forks of the Nooksack River as well as in the main channel show levels approaching or reaching minor flood stages with crest forecasts exceeding levels reported during the Super Bowl flood of 2020.

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Valley Highway north of Acme was closed due to flooding about 1pm today. Slater Road in Ferndale was closed about 4:45pm.

The crest forecast to occur tomorrow morning on the South Fork near the Saxon Bridge will reach over 10 feet. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), expected flood impacts at 9.5 feet include “inundating farms, roads and residential areas including the town of Acme. Many roads will be impassable and severe erosion may affect river banks. Flooding will occur all along the river including headwaters…tributaries…and other streams within and near the South Fork Nooksack River Basin.”

The crest forecast to occur shortly after near Cedarville (Nugents Corner) will reach over 149.5 feet, nearly a foot higher than recorded during the 2020 flood event. At this level, officials with NWS say to expect “the Nooksack River will cause major near record flooding downstream through Lynden. Deep and swift flood waters will inundate farm lands…roads…and residential areas. The flood may overtop levees. In addition…flood waters could overflow and flood the Sumas drainage. Flooding will occur all along the river including headwaters…tributaries…and other streams within and near the Nooksack River Basin.”

Further downstream at Ferndale, the river is expected to reach moderate flood stage tomorrow morning and crest at 21.7 feet Tuesday morning. NWS says flood impacts at these levels include “the river will flood additional areas within the City of Ferndale including low-lying residential areas and roads including Washington Street, Portal Way and Second Avenue. The Nooksack River will overflow levees and banks along the east bank of the river from Hovander Park downstream to Marietta, causing widespread flooding from near Ferndale downstream to the mouth…with swift waters in residential areas and over farm lands and roads. Erosion may damage some river banks.”

Whatcom County Department of Emergency Management advises anyone finding themselves in danger from flooding to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Anyone looking to report flood damage after the danger has passed are asked to call 360-788-5311. An emergency declaration has been signed that frees up low-cost financing and other options for those who suffer property damages during this flood event.

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