Flood: One year later
is a multipart series exploring how the devastating November 2021 flooding changed the lives of Whatcom County and Skagit County residents, as well as bodies of government, over the past year. From farmers to mayors, the historic flooding led to economic challenges, developing plans for the future and preparative measures.

Written by Julia Lerner and Olivia Hobson // Edited by Audra Anderson // Photos by Hailey Hoffman

Part I: When the Nooksack River flooded in 2021, it brought catastrophic levels of water into towns across Whatcom County, including Nooksack, Everson and Sumas.

'All hell broke loose'

One year post-flooding in Whatcom:
County officials change emergency plans, procedures

This part of the series is an overview of the days before, during and after the November flooding and the lessons learned about emergency response and recovery.

Part II: The Sumas River winds through north Whatcom County and crosses the Canadian border, eventually draining into the Fraser River. Historically, though, it flowed into the former Sumas Lake, which was drained in 1924.

A river's history

Lost connections between Nooksack, Fraser rivers and Sumas Lake:
Geologic past reveals challenges of flood-management future

This part of the series explores the historical connection between the Nooksack and Fraser rivers, and Sumas Lake.

Part III: The Nooksack River flooded from the banks beyond the tree line, damaging surrounding farms, homes and the town of Everson.

Outdated Whatcom County flood maps pose problems

Old maps lead to flood-management, risk-reduction challenges

This part of the series explores the effects of 40-year-old flood maps, which leave some communities underinsured and unprepared.

Part IV: Owners Kaylene and BJ Edwards stand in their Sumas NAPA Auto Parts shop on Nov. 3. Their shop endured severe damage and debris from flooding last fall.

Faces of the Floods

NAPA Auto Parts owners Kaylene and BJ Edwards:
‘Businesses around town felt like we were just pulling out of COVID, and now this’

This part of the series details what business owners experienced during the floods and in the year after.

Part IV: Mayor John Perry stands on the main street of Everson on Nov. 3, almost one year after the devastating 2021 flooding. Perry said being a mayor is sort of like being a parent — full of unexpected surprises and responsibilities.

Faces of the Floods

Everson Mayor John Perry:
'We have to keep the mitigation planning efforts at the top of our stack'

This part of the series details what a mayor experienced during the floods and in the year after.

Part IV: One year after her home flooded, Nooksack resident Cheryl Brown is still waiting to move back in. The step-by-step recovery process

Faces of the Floods

Nooksack resident Cheryl Brown:
'It feels so good, but very emotional'

This part of the series details what a homeowner experienced during the floods and in the year after.

Part IV: Ryan Johnson is Whatcom County's Search and Rescue council chairman. He worked nonstop through the flooding, responding to distress calls.

Faces of the Floods

Search and rescue chairman Ryan Johnson:
'It's so others may survive'

This part of the series details what search and rescue experienced during the floods and in the year after.

Part V: In November 2021, Francisco Farias' 6-acre farm was heavily flooded by the Skagit River.

Region's farmers adapt crops, prepare for future floods

November 2021 floods devastated agricultural community

This final part of the series explores how the flooding affected farmers in Whatcom and Skagit counties, in both finances and production.