Voluntary evacuations underway in Whatcom County

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Updated predictions show less severe flooding for Whatcom County over the next 24 hours, though residents are being told to be prepared to evacuate should things change.

“The flood prediction models are trending downward,” said Marie Duckworth, public information officer for Whatcom County’s Flood Response. “They’re trending in the right direction.”

Officials from the cities of Sumas and Everson are both saying that they appear to be through the worst of it.

While flooding is still expected, it’s not likely homes and businesses will be flooded out as they were nearly two weeks ago when rivers across the area overflowed their banks.

This time, the main concern is road flooding. That’s because the area is still recovering from the catastrophic flooding earlier this month.

“There’s just no more places for the water to go,” said Duckworth. “All of our retention ponds, our ditches, flood plains, all of these things are full at this point and are starting to creep up to our roadways.”

Roads across Northwest Washington are already being closed, including Iowa street in Bellingham near I-5.

Work is also being done on levees in the area, like those around the Everson Bridge.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been reinforcing them throughout the weekend, but the Mayor of Sumas says the levees are still vulnerable.

“They did what they could in what short amount of time they had,” said Sumas Mayor Kyle Christensen. “But I wouldn’t say that they’re fully restored.”

A couple of weeks ago, flooding in and around the Sumas area destroyed businesses and homes and left some families with no place to go.

While current flood predictions don’t match what the area has already seen, the region is still hurting.

With river forecasts changing by the hour, local leaders are asking residents not to let their guard down.

“It’s got to be tough for people,” said Christensen. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through. Just sitting and waiting for this next flood to come.”