BIRCH BAY, Wash. -- Every time they get a heavy, prolonged rain storm, some residents near Birch Bay lose a lot of sleep and usually some of their property.

It's become a chronic problem on Semiahmoo Drive on the north of end of the bay. Heavy rains flood a ditch on the road in front of their homes and send water cascading through their property. Along the way the flows weaken sections of the bluffs and parts of their back yards go crashing down into the bay. It happened Tuesday to Steve Halpin's neighbor. It also happened in 2010 to Halpin.

It was sheer terror, said Halpin, who lost a large swatch of yard and his stairway to the beach.

He said that's all he could think about Tuesday when a similar storm sent water over his road again. He and neighbors stacked sand bags to slow the flow, but the water still picked a victim. A family two houses to the north lost a section of yard and part of the drainage system that was put in to prevent problems just like this.

Halpin said it's becoming an annual stress out. He said he and his neighbors feel like they are on call all winter long and dare not leave their homes for long for fear they'll return to more damage and less yard.

Whatcom County officials are aware of the problem and helped with the sand bagging Tuesday.

The Halpins and their neighbors hope the county or state will install a larger culvert that could help prevent future flooding.

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