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Floodwaters continue to rise in area north of Sumas

The east Sumas Prairie, which sits on a dried lake bed, continues to fill up with floodwaters from the Nooksack River.

SUMAS, Wash. — The east Sumas Prairie, just north of Sumas, Washington over the Canadian border, continues to fill up with floodwaters from the Nooksack River following this week's storm

Abbotsford, B.C. Mayor Henry Braun delivered the update Thursday, as most of the areas in Washington state that were hit hardest by the recent historic flooding begin cleaning up and looking toward recovery.

Braun said that waters from the Nooksack River continue to flow northeast over the U.S.-Canada border into the Sumas Prairie, the eastern two-thirds of which sits on the bed of a dried lake.

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The Barrowtown Pump Station, constructed for this very reason, continues to pump water from the east prairie into the Fraser River to the north at full capacity, but even at 500,000 gallons per minute, it has been unable to catch up to the amount of water coming in, Braun said.

“The Nooksack continues to come across the border and, through the breaches, is filling up the old lake bed, which is why the water is rising,” Braun said.

Most of the residents in the eastern prairie are likely farmers, according to Braun.

Braun said that he is in talks with Canadian officials about what he believes will be around $1 billion in repairs. He also said that he is scheduled to discuss the flooding with Gov. Jay Inslee at some point Thursday.

So far, Abbotsford first responders have evacuated close to 600 people from flooding throughout the area.

If the Barrowtown Pump Station fails, the flooding would further inundate the town as well as Sumas to the south.

In an update Wednesday, the city of Sumas said that it would have at least 24 hours before seeing any significant impact if the pump station encounters any issues.

The Abbotsford area is getting some rain along with western Washington Thursday, but Braun said he is more concerned about next week when it is predicted his town could get another roughly 4 inches of rain.

“That’s what I’m concerned about if we don’t fix those breaches. Because the Nooksack could go back up again and revisit us,” Braun said. “But we are still not pumping anywhere near the amount of water out of the system than is coming into the prairie from across the border.”

Waters continue to recede from the western third of the Sumas Prairie where the Sumas River water levels have steadily dropped since Wednesday.

In Sumas, an estimated 75% of homes were damaged in the flooding, with Skagit and Whatcom counties being the most impacted by the flooding. 

As of Thursday morning, one Flood Warning remains in place for the Skagit River in Mount Vernon.