‘Just start over. Rebuild’: First the floodwaters, now the recovery in Sumas

SUMAS, Wash. — On Thursday, Sumas families spent the day gutting their waterlogged homes.

“It was like walking in a nightmare,” said Austin Holder, who had to take a boat to get to his home on Monday.

By Thursday, his family had helped him clear everything out and strip the drywall.

“Just start over. Rebuild,” the 23-year-old said, when asked what his plan was moving forward.

Holder bought the two-bedroom house several years ago when his daughter was born.

He said they will now stay with their family until they can move back in.

“Hopefully we can get some money together and make it a home again for me and my daughter,” said Holder, in an interview on Thursday evening.

Holder’s sister started a GoFundMe page to help with flood relief for Austin and his daughter.

Located roughly 30 miles from the Canadian border, the small Washington town was engulfed by floodwaters on Sunday and Monday.

Officials said roughly 75% of houses in Sumas suffered flood damage.

Many streets and houses were still underwater on Thursday.

Governor Jay Inslee on Thursday suggested federal relief dollars were not guaranteed.

“You cannot be assured of this because in part the federal rules are very amorphous. They are subject to substantial discretion by the administration. The rules aren’t entirely clear from a numerical standpoint,” Inslee said.

On Thursday, WSDOT reported that six main roads were still closed due to floodwaters:

  • SR 547 at Bishop Road to Telegraph Road.
  • SR 20 at Collins Road to Mary Lane.
  • SR 9 MP 84-SR 542 Nugents Corner.
  • SR 9 Hathaway to Whatcom County.
  • SR 9 Vancouver Street to the Canadian border.
  • I-5 NB Ramp at Iowa Street.

Volunteer crews told KIRO 7 they will be in Sumas through the weekend to help clear out the houses of those who need assistance.

HOW TO HELP: Donations to help those affected by flooding are being accepted through Whatcom Community Foundation’s Resilience Fund. A local donor and Puget Sound Energy have made matching funds available so donations this week are matched dollar for dollar, up to a combined total of $115,000. To contribute to the Resilience Fund, go online to https://bit.ly/3Ck86JW.