In November 2021, Whatcom County, Washington, residents were unaware of the impact flooding from atmospheric river events would have on their community. On November 14, the Nooksack River overflowed, flooding streets, farmland, and many residential buildings. Kevin and Stephanie are a young couple from Sumas, Washington, a small farming community west of the Cascade mountains. When the community received a warning about the flood, the couple and nearly 500 other people evacuated Whatcom County.
Historically, the Nooksack River has repeatedly flooded, with recorded events dating back to 1917. Yet, the financial damage from the 2021 flood totaled more than 1,600 percent higher cost than the last major flood in 1990. In fact, this flood damaged 85 percent of the homes in Sumas, including Kevin and Stephanie’s.
Upon returning to their home, the couple found three feet of water inside. Unfortunately, the force of the floodwater destroyed their bay window, and they lost all their possessions that were standing on the floor. Thankfully, they received emergency relief from the local Long-Term Recovery Group, Whatcom Strong. Kevin and Stephanie realized there would be a long journey ahead to recover from this flood. In fact, they couldn’t live in their home for five months. Those long months were spent wondering if they would overcome the many trials from the flood.