Tuesday, November 16, 2021

We're Homeless!

 We will be staying at least one more night here in the shelter before we can get down the mountain and find a motel to hole up in, and get ahold of FIMA, our insurance company, and a realtor.

Yeah, a realtor.  We're selling our house and property.  We'll never feel safe there again.

Here's what happened.  

Sumas is four feet below sea level, and back in the 1800s it was a shallow lake, not fields. The area was drained via a system of canals to open up the land for agriculture.

Usually when it's flooded in Sumas, it's just been rain accumulation and the runoff from the couple of creeks that go through town, combined with a really high water table. The whole town turned into a big, shallow mud puddle, and only a couple of times. No big deal.

This time was different.  

We had been having torrential rain storms for the past month almost every night, all falling on land that had been baked solid by last summers dry conditions.  But then, two days ago, we got a hard southerly rainstorm that came through, with high winds and sideways, firehose-type precip, nonstop.

The town just south of us is called Nooksack, because the Nooksack river runs through it, and it's a deep, swift river with tall embankments built all along it's bed through the flatlands.  All the rain that fell emptied into the whole of the Nooksack, from where it starts on Mt. Baker and downward until it abruptly hits the flatlands, where it just overtopped all the levees and spread out over the fields.  The floodwaters crept out over the nine miles between us and Nooksack, and came spilling DOWN into Sumas over the railroad embankments, and I know because at one point we were stranded on one such embankment wondering why the water was higher on the south side than on our side, and trippin' balls watching it come cascading down into town.   That's why the water level rose so rapidly beginning at around 8:35 am.  All that river water had just crested the railroad embankments.

A helpful diagram.  Not to scale and kind of sideways, but you get the picture.

Our house is an unrepairable biohazard now.  The floors and the foundations were pretty iffy, and we were going to wait and re-do them this summer.  Now we don't have to.

We are for the present time homeless, and will be until we can get down off this mountain.

Here's the thing I can't get over - how nice this facility is!  It's like the grade school I attended.  Everyone has been so kind and the food is pretty good, too.  We're the only flood refugees here, but the place is also a food bank and a Head Start - community center with multiple resources.  

In fact, we left this very place, Kendall, where we lived less than a mile down the road from where I sit typing this, because it had become a slum in the deep woods, where meth and crime were rampant.  We moved to Sumas to get our daughter into a better school district, so that worked out.  But here we are right back where we started from, getting our butts saved by a facility that didn't exist here ( and really needed to be here) when we moved away.

Our plans for the present are - assess the house, contact our insurance and all the other resources at hand, get an apartment or something in Bellingham to be closer to where the Biker works, get our household situation together and then wait for further developments.  I foresee a huge garage sale in our future.


  1. Oh, Ms Nations!!! I'd just read your last post when this one popped up. I don't know what to say?
    I know you were talking about moving earlier in the year, so I suppose this flood has sealed the deal. I really hope that your insurance and everything else goes smoothly - and quickly - and that you find a nice new home not on a flood plain/cliff edge/fault line/volcano etc. etc.

    Very much love to you, and I'm happy to hear that at least the shelter is comfortable and welcoming.

  2. It's not exactly been the best couple of years, has it? Hope you get everything you need and want out of this situation in the fullness of time. It would be such a drag for you to not have a garden, two sheds and all, in your near future... Jx

  3. Inexplicable DeVice: Thanks! We're on the phone with our insurance company as I type and getting the ball rolling. I think we'll be able to get temporary housing covered, but everything now stands at being able to get down off the mountain and into Sumas to take pictures and see what we can salvage. Here is drone footage of what my little town looks like today:

  4. Jon: I'll shoot you the video link from yesterday. At 1:41 pause it and look a bit up and left and you'll see a long, tallish grey building with lots of oblong windows. Directly to the left of that building is what was our little house and property. It's just a small l-shape with a building just distinguishable and a pouffe of a tree to the left. It's surrounded by water.

    Sumas is a lake with no way in or out. It SUCKS.

  5. Jon: I meant pause the video at 1:41 and then look from the center of the screen where the big O and > sign are, and then you'll find it.

  6. I do not do fackbuk, but the picture (photograph / still) and the graph do explain what is, so no need to see more water on Zuckerzwerg's machine.

    Where is the water supposed to go to ? Is that Nooksack the only exit ? I mean, what determines how long this water will stay where it actually is ? It makes a difference whether a construction is submerged / flooded for only two days or two weeks. Damage is done, yes, but there may be a differnece between a total loss and an economical repair.

    To chip my two cents in : As you describe it, it is different from former floodings because of the sheer amount of rain - is this likely to repeat or a once-in-whatever occurrence ? Was it some "runaway accident" or is it the logical result of former developments ?

    All thess questions may look silly or nonsensical right now, but what I am aiming at is how "big" are the chances that something like this will re-occur ?

    I come from a dirt poor background, and know one thing for sure : Selling land is the final way out. What you have, you have.
    Don't get me wrong please, one does not need to cling to something that is proven no-good, but if you sell something you should not loose (too much). I beg your pardon, I am a lousy "business man", I proudly went banquerott myself, ha !
    I say all this simply because I hope that your decision to contact a realitor and sell, is good. Of course it is clear that investing in a doomed project is idiotic - wenn der Gaul tot ist, dann ist er tot (dead horse is dead horse, nothing else).

    I hope your salvaging effort will be successful. I have no idea what means you have at hand, but I think you have to go and look for yerself as soon as possible.
    Good luck. Protect yourself please, and do not pee on cables.

  7. I'm catching up, so glad the Shelter was so nice... so sad you're enduring so much right at the Holidays no less! Hopefully you can recover what is important when you can get back into your Home and assess everything that survived the Flood.