How Lynden church helped rally community as destructive flood swept across region

Nov 18, 2021, 4:13 PM | Updated: Nov 19, 2021, 5:47 am
Lynden church, flood relief...
Donations to those affected by early week-flooding in Lynden, Wash. (Lynden Chamber of Commerce)
(Lynden Chamber of Commerce)

It began as a simple gesture from North County Christ the King Church in Lynden, Washington.

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

“We started Monday just offering soup, a place to hang out, and use Wi-Fi from 1 to 5 in the afternoon,” the church’s Life Ministry Director Ramona Stump told KIRO Radio. “We weren’t expecting this need.”

Stump says the need suddenly grew as the Nooksack River spilled over its banks, inundating nearby towns like Sumas and Everson, and forcing people to evacuate any way they could.

“We had tractors going and picking people up in the buckets, and then taking them over to boats, and vice versa,” she recounted.

After that, the church’s mission suddenly changed.

That had them converting the church into an overnight shelter, eventually housing up to 70 people, many of whom had lost everything.

“One or two people came in and just started crying because they were starting to realize what was going on,” Stump said, pointing out how many in the rural town are used to relying on themselves.

“People don’t even know how to ask for help,” she continued. “We did hear one family, they had been evacuated yesterday, and today, they were still in the clothes they were evacuated in, and they didn’t want to ask for help.”

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

But if pride is a small town trait, so is generosity.

“It was amazing, the community just rallied around us and brought in bedding, clothing, food, all kinds of things,” Stump said.

People in rural parts of Whatcom County are only just beginning to assess the damage to their businesses, their homes and lives. But Stump believes the close-knit community will come together.

“People are really super generous and I think that it’s going to be quite the thing, is going to pull a community together as we come around all these people who are in need,” she said.

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How Lynden church helped rally community as destructive flood swept across region