On Nov. 16, 2021, the Nooksack River flooded, devastating communities across Whatcom County. Now, nearly 15 months to the day it closed, the Sumas Community Center, which includes the Sumas Public Library and Senior Center, will reopen with a 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 ribbon cutting celebration.
Following the brief ceremony, guests may tour the building and gather information from community organization displays. Refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Sumas Library. At 6 p.m., author, semi-retired pastor and long-time Sumas-area resident Carl Crouse will read from his book, The Waters are Rising: Stories of Inspiration and Hope from the Sumas, Washington Flood of November 2021. The book will be available for purchase; proceeds benefit the Whatcom Long-Term Recovery Fund. The Waters are Rising is also available to borrow from the library.
“The reopening of the library and community center is welcome good news for Sumas,” says WCLS Executive Director Christine Perkins. “We know folks are eager to have this gathering place open again. It’s a sign that the community is healing and a return to some ‘normalcy.’ We have many people to thank, including our partners from the City of Sumas, the Friends of the Sumas Library, and individuals and organizations who donated to the Sumas Library Recovery Fund. I also want to acknowledge and celebrate the work of WCLS staff members who collaborated over these many months to renovate the library space and to make updates that resulted in this welcoming, resilient library building.”
Flood waters were more than 2 feet deep inside the city-owned building at 461 2nd Street. All the flooring, shelving, equipment, and drywall were removed and replaced. Library staff salvaged many of the library materials. Whatcom County Library System’s renovation costs at the Sumas Library totaled approximately $210,000, including debris removal and the purchase of new furniture, library materials and IT equipment. Insurance covered approximately $170,000 of the renovation cost. The rest of the money came from FEMA, WCLS’s capital budget and donations to the Sumas Library Recovery Fund via the Whatcom County Library Foundation. Library supporters from Whatcom County, Washington state and throughout the country donated $35,000 to the fund to help rebuild the library.
The renovation also allowed library staff to work with the City of Sumas to add a library express in the building’s foyer. Patrons will use their library cards to access the unstaffed express location when the library is closed. They can pick up library items they have reserved as well as browse a small collection of materials for checkout.
The library’s hours will be 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays. Events are also returning to the Sumas Library. Visit wcls.org/events to search for upcoming programs.
Library services continued in Sumas even while the building itself was closed for remodeling. WCLS’s bookmobile visited the library parking lot each Friday. Patrons were also able to reserve and pick up library materials from a lockbox. WiFi service is available from the parking lot. The bookmobile’s final regularly scheduled stop at Sumas is Friday, Feb. 10.