Washington will be ‘aggressive’ in efforts to get federal relief after flood

Nov 18, 2021, 8:08 AM
flood relief...
Laura Anker cleans up mud from flooding at the Cherry Street Market on Nov. 17, 2021, in Sumas, Wash. People in the small city of Sumas, Washington, are assessing damage from flooding that hit an estimated three quarters of homes in the community near the Canadian border. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

When the flood damage estimates come in from communities in northern Washington hit hard by this week’s storm, the total amount is expected to be in the many millions of dollars.

Whatcom County resident recounts having to leave home by boat amid devastating flood

But will the residents who have been forced out of their homes and businesses receive any federal help paying for the cleanup?

Governor Jay Inslee says the state is working to secure federal flood relief, but first, Washington will have to meet some dollar loss thresholds.

“We have had some success getting loans for hard-hit businesses, and what we’re doing right now is trying to compile the amount of damage so that if we get to a certain threshold, we can get some federal assistance,” Gov. Inslee said.

“We are going to be aggressive in our efforts to obtain federal assistance for these homeowners and business owners,” he added. “It will be some period of time [before we know] whether that can be obtained or not.”

To help with possible claims, property owners are advised to take photos of any flood or weather damage before they start cleanup. They are also advised to save all receipts.

Gov. Inslee toured many flood-ravaged parts of Whatcom County on Wednesday. He praised the efforts of rescue crews who risked their lives to bring so many people to safety. Inslee also made note of the death of Everson resident Jose Garcia, whose body was found in a flooded area after he had been missing since Monday.

“We’ve had a very unfortunate loss of one life,” Inslee said. “But frankly, it’s extremely good fortune that there has not been more loss of life in this community.”

On Monday, Gov. Inslee declared a severe weather state of emergency in Clallam, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Mason, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, and Whatcom counties.

Days later, some Whatcom County communities are reporting flood damage to more than half of the homes. In Sumas, Washington, officials say three out of four homes are impacted.

Flooding hits 75% of Sumas homes as responders stage rescues with boats, tractors

For those residents who are still unable to return home, there are a few emergency shelters open in local churches, and a new Red Cross shelter at the fairground’s Mount Baker Rotary Building in Lynden.

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Washington will be ‘aggressive’ in efforts to get federal relief after flood