BELLINGHAM — Damages from flooding last week in Whatcom County could reach as high as $50 million, officials said, as forecasters warn that multiple “atmospheric rivers” may drench the Pacific Northwest in the coming days.
The Bellingham Herald reports Whatcom County officials said at a briefing Tuesday that the damages for recent flooding were estimated at $15 million to $20 million for houses, “tens of millions of dollars” for public infrastructure and up to $20 million for area business centers.
Rain drenched the county for three days and the Nooksack River surged over its banks Nov. 14, inundating the communities of Everson, Nooksack and Sumas.
BNSF train cars in a yard derailed, the U.S.-Canada border closed in Sumas, three bridges in Bellingham were closed, and landslides blocked Interstate 5 south of Bellingham.
Jon Hutchings, director of the county Public Works Department, said it’s been 30-plus years since flooding of this scale happened in the area.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews started repairs Tuesday on Nooksack River levees in four locations, including near Lynden and on the Lummi Peninsula.
Meanwhile, damage assessments continued and would be added to losses in 13 other Western Washington counties that Gov. Jay Inslee declared as disaster areas with the hope of getting federal aid. Two of those counties are Clallam and Jefferson, with authorities evaluating the amount of damage.
And forecasters say more moisture from atmospheric rivers — huge plumes of moisture extending over the Pacific and into the Northwest — is on the way.
Rain will begin to move into the Northwest on Thanksgiving Day, with some areas hit by the recent flooding expected to see up to 3 inches by Friday. And more storm events are forecast for Saturday and into next week.