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'It's like a big giant hug': Those displaced by Whatcom County floods find outpouring of support

Churches have been providing shelter, restaurants and neighbors have been donating hot meals, and there are more warm, dry clothes than they know what to do with.

LYNDEN, Wash. — Jeffrey Goins is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the people of his north Whatcom County community.

"It's like a big, giant hug," he says. "It really makes you feel warm."

Jeffrey, his wife, and 4 daughters escaped rapidly rising waters from historic floods this week. Cold, wet and with nowhere else to go they found shelter at North County Christ the King Church in Lynden.

The church has converted itself into a one-stop relief agency. It has housed dozens of families this week, alongside operating a food bank for those in need.

Restaurants and neighbors are providing hot meals and there is more warm, dry clothing than they know what to do with.

"The minute we ask for something we get thousands of donations of that one thing," said church volunteer Emily Wood. "We put out a need for pillows and then we have so many pillows that we have to tell people no more. Then we say we need dog food, and we have all this dog food. It's crazy!"

RELATED: Floodwaters continue to rise in area north of Sumas

North County Christ the King is one of several churches that have taken desperate flood victims in.  The care and compassion, however, started well before the shelters opened.

"Anybody who had something that would be of help was out there," said Darren Leyenhorst, of Sumas.

Leyenhorst's home was taking on water quickly, Monday, when he called co-worker Ben Faber for help.

With the waters rising a foot every minute and county search and rescue crews flooded with calls, Ben and his brother Greg used Ben's fishing boat to ferry Darren's family to a tractor which brought them to higher ground.

"I was planning to get rid of the boat," said Ben. "I'm glad I didn't."

Ben and his brother stayed on the water for the next 8 hours, rescuing about 40 people.

RELATED: 'It was crazy': Woman recalls being rescued from her roof after major flood hit Forks

"When you've got people in single-story homes with 5 to 6 feet of water, and they're shaking from hypothermia you don't really think about it," said Greg. "You just get them in a boat, throw them in a loader and get them to safety."

"You couldn't do it all with just a boat, or just a tractor," adds Ben. "You needed everybody."

It is a community that is reminding everyone in the flood zone what community is really all about.

"When a crisis happens we all need to band together," said Jeffery Goins, "because, in the long run, all we do have is each other. With the floods, I was thinking about leaving here, but seeing all this, I think I'll stay. Hopefully, when the next flood comes I can be one of the people who helps out."

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