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'A lot of water': Sumas hit with flood waters after weekend storm

On Monday morning, the city's flood siren sounded as water bypassed the Cherry Street Bridge and spread into town.

EVERSON, Wash. — The City of Sumas is dealing with more flooding after water bypassed the Cherry Street Bridge Monday morning.

The city's flood siren sounded just after 9 a.m. By 11:50 p.m. flood waters were once again flowing into the city.

"Please do not panic, make any necessary preparations now," the city posted on Facebook. "Life safety will continue to be our number one priority through this flood event."

By mid-afternoon, water levels were slowly dropping, according to city officials. However, there is "still a lot of water around town." 

The roads into town are closed until water levels are low enough to safely cross in vehicles. 

The latest flooding comes after heavy rain brought by an atmospheric river over the weekend.

Farther south, along the Nooksack River, floodwaters reached Everson Sunday afternoon.

Everson Mayor John Perry said the Nooksack River topped a road in the city on Sunday afternoon and officials were expecting Main Street to flood. He said they were preparing to close roads even though the river rose slower than projected.  

Much of the floodplain's water storage capability is already depleted, according to information from the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office. Impacts from river flooding may occur faster than during previous floods because of this.

The Nooksack River's water level at Everson dropped below the overflow flood stage by 10:30 a.m. on Monday, according to the National Weather Service. That should keep any additional flood water from entering the drainage there. Flooding will continue until the water can drain out of the system.

A Flood Warning for the Nooksack River at Everson is in effect until 11 p.m. Monday.

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Members of the National Guard are stationed in Everson and Sumas. They have been working to fill and deliver sandbags and provide other assistance. Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue personnel are standing by if water rescues are needed.

The Seattle District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers brought in an automatic sandbag filling machine intended to help speed sandbag production ahead of forecasted flooding on Sunday. The machine filled sandbags with impressive speed for much of the day but suffered a mechanical issue late in the afternoon. 

“With the people that are over here, we’re almost as quick as the Army Corps sandbagging machine,” a volunteer named Megan said. “Many hands make little work.”

The county is also experiencing significant standing water and ponding that affect roads and buildings.

“There are certain roadways that get deep water moving through and fast water in our floodway and those are the ones we’re focused on,” Perry told KING 5.

The American Red Cross is operating a shelter at the Mount Baker Rotary Building, 1775 Front Street in Lynden. 

November has been wet for northwest Washington. The National Weather Service said Bellingham recorded over 13 inches of rain by Sunday night — an all-time record for the month.

In Whatcom County, the Nooksack River at Ferndale reached moderate flooding on Monday. A Flood Warning is in effect through Tuesday morning.

During this stage, the Nooksack could cause widespread flooding, covering farmland and roads, and erosion may affect some river banks, according to the NWS. It may also overflow levees and banks from Hovander Park in Ferndale downstream.

The weekend storm system is a punch in the gut for many in the community who are still recovering from the last flooding event.

“A lot of the same people that lost their house last week are just trying to get whatever they can to protect what they have left, which is probably the most heartbreaking thing,” said Megan.

Chris Evans just moved to the community and said his family has been touched by the support, especially after the last storm. 

“A lady named Jennifer was dropping off hot meals for a few days afterward which is a huge help when you’re cleaning mud out all day,” he said as he waited in line for sandbags.

The rain fell just two weeks after historic flooding in Whatcom County that damaged more than 80% of the buildings in Sumas, where many are still recovering. Earlier this week, emergency management officials assessed the damage in Whatcom County to prepare to apply for federal disaster relief.