Bellingham, Washington. – Last week flood damage in Watcom County in northwest Washington could reach $ 50 million, officials said, as forecasters warn several “atmospheric rivers” could flood the Pacific Northwest in the coming days.
The Bellingham Herald reports that Watcom County officials in a briefing on Tuesday said the recent flood damage was estimated at $ 15-20 million for homes, “tens of millions of dollars” for public infrastructure and up to $ 20 million for regional business centers.
Rain flooded the county for three days, and on November 14, the Nuxak River overflowed its banks, flooding the communities of Everson, Nuxak and Sumas.
BNSF train cars derailed, the US-Canada border at Sumas closed, three bridges at Bellingham were closed, and landslides blocked Interstate 5 south of Bellingham.
John Hutchings, director of the county’s department of public works, said it has been more than 30 years since a flood of this magnitude hit the area.
On Tuesday, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began repairing dams on the Nuxak River at four locations, including near Linden and on the Lammy Peninsula.
Meanwhile, the damage assessment has continued and will be added to losses in 13 other Western Washington counties that Gov. Jay Inslee has declared disaster areas – in hopes of receiving federal aid.
And forecasters say there will soon be more moisture from atmospheric rivers – huge plumes of moisture that extend over the Pacific Ocean and to the northwest. Rain will begin to move northwest on Thanksgiving Day and is expected to hit 3 inches (7.6 cm) in some areas affected by recent flooding by Friday.
And more storm events are forecast for Saturday and next week.