Residents in the Sumas Prairie in the City of Abbotsford are being told to evacuate as conditions pose a ‘significant risk to life.’
On Wednesday morning, Mayor Henry Braun of Abbotsford, which includes the Sumas Prairie, said that so far the pump station off of the Sumas River has been able to run at capacity to keep up with the influx of water but could still fail, especially if more water comes into the town from the Nooksack River across the U.S. border.
“The Barrowtown Pump Station is operating at its full capacity, but was never intended or designed to take on water from another country,” Braun said.
On Tuesday night, Abbotsford staff and contract workers were able to build a dam around the pump station to ensure it isn’t overwhelmed by the waters.
The town’s fire chief said crews are also continuing to rescue those caught in the floodwaters on the Sumas Prairie, with at least 100 rescues set to take place Wednesday morning.
The affected area is located just north of Sumas, Washington, where significant flooding has already occurred.
The water level along Sumas River at Abbotsford is expected to continue to decrease throughout the day, according to Braun. However, major flooding along the Nooksack River is expected to last into Thursday.
Additionally, a large structure fire broke out Wednesday morning at an RV lot in Abbotsford. The fire involves roughly 100 RVs, according to the town’s fire chief.
Abbotsford police told residents near N Parallel and Sumas Mountain roads to stay inside due to potentially toxic smoke.
As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, the fire was still very active, with Abbotsford fire crews on scene. Still no word on how the fire was started.
Sumas residents should be prepared to evacuate if flooding conditions suddenly change, the city said late Tuesday.
On Tuesday night, the City of Abbotsford issued a notice for all residents that have not evacuated to do so immediately. Flooding in the area is “anticipated to be catastrophic,” according to the city.
Water in the Sumas Prairie was shut off at 9 p.m. due to a water main breach.
The Washington Emergency Management Division’s Alert & Warning Center is monitoring the situation north of the border to see if it will impact Whatcom County.
Sumas Mayor Kyle Christensen said they are in communication with officials. The city sent the following notice to residents late Tuesday:
“We have an important announcement about the Abbotsford evacuation. We will be monitoring the flow from Canada on a regular basis throughout the evening. If we notice a significant change in the water levels that requires immediate action we will send out an emergency notification to your cell phones. As a precaution please have a grab bag ready just in case. If you have the ability and desire to safely leave your homes as a precaution, now would be a good time to do that. Please do so in a slow and safe manner. We are not expecting anything to change significantly in the next few hours. I am literally watching the water right now. We will provide updates if anything changes.”
Sumas was hit hard by the flooding that occurred over the past few days. An estimated 75% of homes in the city have been damaged, according to the city.
Whatcom and Skagit counties were among the areas that experienced the most significant flooding. Approximately 100 rescue calls connected to flooding were reported in the north and northeast areas of Whatcom County on Tuesday, according to officials. At least 300 people are staying in shelters. Many roads remain closed due to damage and standing water.