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Floods cripple Ferndale food bank right before Thanksgiving

Two delivery vans appear totaled with Thanksgiving less than a week away.

FERNDALE, Wash. — The food stayed dry. The delivery vans did not. 

As the Nooksack River swallowed up much of northern Whatcom County this week, it also spilled into the parking lot of the Ferndale Food Bank. The water measured 4 feet deep, flooding the engines of the delivery vans at a critical time. 

"This is the most important time of the year. It couldn't have happened at a worse time," said food bank Executive Director Evan Anderson. "The first thing that went through my mind was the clients. We have to make sure they get their food."

The vans now sit in dealership parking lots awaiting an official diagnosis, but the initial prognosis in not good.

"The water seeped into the engines and destroyed everything," said Anderson.

The food bank feeds 200 families every week. A good portion of those meals are delivered to people in need all around the community.

The number of people forced to utilize the food bank is expected to rise with hundreds of neighbors in the area flooded out of their homes for the foreseeable future, just as the holidays are setting in.

Anderson said he is worried the crisis has only just begun.

"I think we're gonna see a continued need, based on this flood, for weeks to come, deep into the Christmas holidays, especially at a time when people are trying to rebuild their lives and are expected to spend money on gifts."

The flood has already caused the food bank to cancel this week's Wednesday distribution.

That's the day most people get their Thanksgiving meals.

The Bellingham Food Bank loaned a truck to Ferndale to help as Thanksgiving approaches, but Bellingham needs its truck back by next Friday.

The floods now threaten to disrupt deliveries not just for Thanksgiving, but possibly even for Christmas.

Replacement of the vans could cost $100,000. That's money the charity simply doesn't have.

"It's a hard stop, full hold on everything until we can get new vehicles and rebalance everything. We're gonna have to do an all-call for any interested parties to give as much as they can," said Anderson. "Governor Inslee was here on Wednesday giving interviews for the cameras in front of our flooded parking lot. We would love to see some support from that office."

RELATED: How you can help Whatcom, Skagit county flood victims

The Ferndale Kiwanis set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to either repair or replace one of the food bank's vans. 

Ferndale Kiwanis President Kathy Young said after hearing about the flooding they wanted to help. Since food insecurity was a focus of Kiwanis International's philanthropic efforts this year, the Ferndale chapter had already worked with the food bank on a separate fundraiser. They reached out to the food bank director to ask what it needed.

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