Outpouring of help for Whatcom County flood victims; Red Cross opens new shelter

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Communities across Whatcom County are stepping up however they can to help victims impacted by flooding.

“To watch a community come together like this, it’s an amazing thing,” said Jeffery Goins, a Sumas resident currently staying at North County Christ the King Church.

The church lobby is filled with food, donated clothes and toiletries. The worship center is also full of makeshift beds and people displaced by the historic flooding in Whatcom County.

“Very helpful. And I’m very thankful for this place,” said Jay-Cee Luna, who was evacuated with her boyfriend Jeffery and kids. They’ve all been at the church since Tuesday night.

“We all want to stand with each other, support each other and be strong,” said Ramona Stumpf of North County Christ the King Church.

About 20 people were staying at the church on Thursday, with about 70 people at its peak, Stumpf said. Another 40 to 50 people were staying at the Sonlight Community Church in Lynden.

Melody Griffiths, another Sumas resident, says she was in her bedroom when the water started rising fast and poured into her bedroom.

“Everything was just floating,” Griffiths said. “We were just camped out on my bed trying to get rescued. At that point, I just kept phoning 911 to please rescue us.”

“We took two boats, a tractor, and a van to get here,” Griffiths said.

To help relieve the local churches, the American Red Cross is now in Lynden, opening up another shelter space at the Mount Baker Rotary Building at the Lynden fairgrounds.

“You guys run out of steam, we’re here, we can help,” said Rhonda Jack, a Red Cross volunteer. The new Red Cross shelter has a capacity of 50 people and is pet-friendly.

Flood victims say all of this support helps bring some peace in this time of chaos.

“If it wasn’t for the Lynden, Everson, and Sumas communities coming together to save lots of lives, I don’t know what - it could’ve been a lot worse,” Goins said.

The plan is for all donations at the churches to be moved to a storage facility at the Lynden Fairgrounds on Friday, near the new Red Cross shelter at the Mount Baker Rotary Building.

It will operate as a resource center where people can come to pick up what they need.

They’re asking people to hold off on donations for a day, if possible until the resource center is set up, and will share an exact address for people to find or donate help when it is ready.