Saturday is a day mostly of getting rid of sodden debris in Sumas, Everson, Nooksack

WHATCOM — With help, the people of Sumas, Everson and Nooksack began their massive flood recovery effort Saturday.

Mostly, it was the sorry business of tearing out ruined walls and floors, throwing out sodden belongings, scraping muck and hosing down what could be salvaged.

People continuously brought their debris by the truckload and trailerfuls to huge churning mounds along the main streets of Everson and Sumas, where big loading machines moved it into containers and dumpsters for transit to Whatcom garbage disposal. 

“This is the dump truck capital of the world right now,” said Vince Stremler, of Stremler Gravel, at the parking lot of Bob’s Burgers & Brew along Cherry Street.

At first the company was volunteering its services earlier in the week, then became part of the contracting the City of Sumas did to make Saturday the huge community-wide day for “mucking out” the extensive flood devastation.

ServiceMaster, trying to air out Sumas Elementary School with fans and big blowers, was one example of a professional firm lending its cleanup expertise.

In both Everson and Sumas, both volunteer groups and food vendors served the hundreds of workers with soups, sandwiches, sweets and beverages. Edaleen Dairy in Sumas was giving out free ice cream cones. 

A block west of Cherry Street, shocking damage to BNSF railroad tracks was evident. Rail cars including fuel tankers lay tipped on their sides where torrents of water undercut the railroad bed.

Flood torrents from Nooksack River overflow came across miles to swamp what is the normal channel of Johnson Creek through Sumas.

Fire hydrants, traffic signs and fences remained wrenched out of place or downed from the force of the flooding

The international border station continued closed at Sumas Saturday. 

A huge generator was parked in front of Sumas City Hall.

At a home at Sumas and Vancouver streets, a man was awaiting an insurance adjustor to visit, but he could understand that there will be delays.

The big pile receiving debris from Everson and Nooksack was between the Cafe 544 restaurant and the new O’Reilly Auto Parts store.

Cars crowded parts of west Nooksack where fairly recent new construction absorbed the brunt of flooding, and people were helping residents there clean out and begin to recover.

On South Washington Street in Everson, city council member Jaleen Pratt was helping clean up a rental property across the street from her own residence. She said she expects she may make a claim on flood insurance she has carried for years.