The storms that occurred in Whatcom County from Thursday October 13th through Sunday October 16th came in as a lion and left as a playful cat – and that was a gift that we all enjoyed. The official flag was raised that we were going to have “Significant Weather” on Tuesday, October 11th, when the National Weather Service began what became a daily briefing on the storms for emergency officials. By Thursday October 13th Environment Canada, the National Weather Service, and the private weather services were in agreement, we were going to get hit.
Friday, October 14th was predicted to have high winds, but nothing compared to what was expected for Saturday. At the height of Friday’s Storm (hours after the time it was supposed to have ended) up to 20,000 were without power, trees were down blocking roads, and the rain was heavy and steady.
The Saturday morning briefing from the National Weather Service was clear – Whatcom County, you are in for it. Local officials briefings and notifications were made throughout the day. The forecast did not change.
Saturday also saw one of the real strengths of Whatcom County emerge – the volunteers. Volunteers activated radio networks, checked in with local authorities, made sure their neighbors and neighborhoods were prepared, all with a strong sense of community resilience. It is simply not possible to list all the volunteers here, and to try to do so will leave out someone, but several deserve mention for mobilizing, getting gear ready, and checking in with Emergency Management, Fire Departments and other local officials:
- The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary Communications Service and the Auxiliary Communications Services in Point Roberts, Blaine, Ferndale, Sudden Valley, along with the Whatcom Emergency Communications Group were ready to send and receive emergency radio traffic;
- The American Red Cross who were ready to roll in and help, as well as open shelters;
- The Washington Conservation Corp who were prepared to assist with clean-up;
- Lummi Nation System of Care who checked on members of the tribe;
- Community Emergency Response Teams were activated in Point Roberts and Sudden Valley, and many others were ready to respond as needed;
- Whatcom County Search & Rescue stood by for a call to swing into action;
- Churches called and offered themselves as shelters.
Whatcom County is extremely fortunate that, not only do we have great law enforcement, fire, and medical services from Bellingham to the border, but we have thousands of volunteers who jump into action even before they are called, who gave up their Saturday to do whatever was needed, and who are always there when it looks like things are not going to go the way we like. If you know a volunteer, take a minute and say thanks to them, and if you would like to be a volunteer, contact the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management (360) 676-6681 for more information.