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

Whatcom County flood cleanup, damage reporting and donating resources

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Now that the Nooksack River has receded after overflowing its banks, many are left with many questions about how to cleanup and repair damaged property, who to report damages to in the hope of qualifying for financial assistance and where and how can people help those displaced and in need.

An atmospheric river from the Pacific Ocean dumped inches of rain over 3 days causing the mid-November major flood event for the residents of Sumas, Lynden, Nooksack, Everson and Ferndale as well as others in unincorporated Whatcom County.

Today, November 19th, Whatcom County officials recognized volunteer groups providing assistance in cleanup including Samaritans Purse, Salvation Army, Team Rubicon, and others. Local businesses, including Farmers Equipment, BP Cherry Point and Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, are providing direct support with personnel and equipment, in some cases used to evacuate people from their homes.

Local organizations directly providing shelter and other aid include North County Christ the King Church, Sonlight Community Church, Sumas Advent Church, and the American Red Cross.

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Some local government agencies and organizations are encouraging the public to financially support the effort to assist those affected by flooding by donating through Whatcom Community Foundation’s Resilience Fund. The Foundation’s website says the fund, previously used toward COVID-19 impacts, supports local non-profits “working on the front lines of disaster response.” They announced most recently they have provided grants to the Miracle Food Network to distribute shampoo and body wash, to Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (CCS) for gift cards for people to buy essential needs. They added that CCS is also providing bins for people salvaging belongings from their flooded homes.

Significant contributions to the fund have been received including a $20,000 donation from Comcast.

View of Lynden from the southwest (November 16, 2021). Photo courtesy of Larry McCarter
View of Lynden from the southwest (November 16, 2021). Photo courtesy of Larry McCarter

Those who suffered property damage associated with the flood event are advised to contact their insurance company and keep as much documentation as possible, including taking photos and saving receipts of related repair costs.

Whatcom County and Washington State have issued proclamations of emergency. This makes funding available for both government response agencies and financing assistance for residents with property damage resulting from the flooding. The first step in applying for assistance is to call Whatcom County at 360-788-5311 and leave a voice message with your name and phone number and a description of the damage.

Locations and extent of reported damage will be collected from those reports to Whatcom County and used in determining what financial assistance will be made available and which programs can be made available.

Whatcom County Emergency Management is accepting volunteer applications online from anyone interested in providing volunteer assistance in Sumas or Everson/Nooksack. Anyone interested in volunteering equipment are asked to contact the Whatcom County Division of Emergency Management by phone at 360-778-7165 or by email to wkost@co.whatcom.wa.us.

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This weekend, November 20th and 21st, community clean up events are being held in Sumas and Everson. Anyone interested in helping are asked to contact volunteer coordinators on Saturday and Sunday in Everson at The Everson Shopping Center, 200 E Main Street, and in Sumas at the Sumas Advent Church, 125 Front Street.

Whatcom County Library System has compiled a comprehensive list of resources, many local, for those impacted by the flooding.

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