Hundreds volunteer to help clean up once-flooded Everson

EVERSON, Wash. — An outpouring of volunteers from around the North Sound showed up in Everson to help the city recover from devastating rains this week.

Now Everson residents say they are simply counting their blessings.

Hundreds of people came to Everson this Saturday morning to help the city clean up after the Nooksack River overtopped its banks this week.

Everson Mayor John Perry estimates 45% of the city’s homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.

Despite that, people there are upbeat.

It’s amazing, especially when seeing the piles of debris that was once a part of life for the city’s residents.

These volunteers are here to help restore Everson to its former self, after it initially appeared the Nooksack River might wash it all away.

If a community can be measured by how it rallies when disaster strikes, Everson is showing itself to be a welcoming place.

“That guy there, I’ve known him all my life; the one on the loader, went to school with, known all my life,” said Brent Crabtree, pointing to those running the heavy machinery to dispose of what did not survive the storm.

So, for Crabtree, this is personal.

“I’ve seen so many people walking with rakes and shovels and whatever,” he said. “LFS in Ferndale, they donated boots and everything. I mean, just amazing.”

Leslie Gesner, an 18-year Everson resident, finds this amazing too.

“There was probably a group of 15 that were here first thing,” Gesner said. “They just hauled out, like chain-sawed this 20-foot tree that was in the backyard.”

These volunteers were there to help Gesner’s family after the Nooksack River transformed the Gesners’ home, yard and neighborhood into a muddy, waterlogged mess.

“We had about eight inches of water in our house,” she said. “And so, we went up to the upstairs. We were in the upper. But we were also on a wind-warning watch, remember? So, we’ve those gusts to 60 miles an hour. We’ve got crazy rain. And we’ve got flooding, all happening at the same time.”

The Gesners were rescued by a front-end loader like the one Everson’s mayor used to pluck his grandson’s family from their flooded home.

But on this overcast Saturday, Mayor John Perry is seeing something else, too.

“People are happy,” Perry said. “They’re happy to help. And the people we are serving are just so thankful their community is here to support them. I can’t say enough good things about what this day has brought. There’s always a silver lining.”

The mayor plans to take Sunday off, his first day off since this disaster. He’s planning, he says, to watch the Seahawks, hoping they won’t disappoint.

But he is asking anyone who wants to volunteer on Sunday, to please head to Sumas. Residents there need a lot of help, after 75% of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.