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Skagit River flooding forces dozens from their homes on Thanksgiving

SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash. -  The rain across western Washington has caused flooding all across Skagit county. The Skagit River reached its highest level in 11 years Thursday causing major flooding in the towns of Hamilton, Mount Vernon, and Concrete.

Skagit County Emergency Management says more than 250 people have been displaced. Several dozen families were forced to leave their homes in Hamilton on Thanksgiving night.

“We didn’t get a lot that we needed, we didn’t get any blankets or clothes,” said a tearful Sandi Potter wrapped her son and herself around a Red Cross blanked outside the First Baptist Church where the Red Cross has set up a shelter.

Soaked, cold and barefoot, standing outside the church parking lot is the last place the Potter family expected to spend the holiday.

“It flooded so fast, and before we knew it we were covered,” said Ely Potter.

He said when the levy broke behind their home, in a matter of two hours, they were wading through water waist deep.

“The water had come into my yard, up to my stairs,” said Sandi Potter,

Flood waters covered parts of Hamilton,. Four campers at Howard Miller Steelhead Park were relocated because of flood water covering the campground.

Over in Mount Vernon roads became rivers as cars got stuck and boats helped rescue people.

Kaleigh Martinson says flooding is nothing new in Skagit County, but in the eight years she’s lived here, she never expected to be affected.

“Last I have seen, I had what looked like someone opened a firehose and let it go inside my house. As I was leaving town, I was crying, like there goes my house under water, see you later,” said Martinson.

She’ll be spending Thanksgiving night here, at the First Baptist Church in Hamilton at the Red Cross shelter.

We’re getting people with animals, people who haven’t had any notice, people with access and functional needs,” said Lacy Shoemaker with the Red Cross.

More than a dozen families prepared to spend the night at the shelter. About a dozen more RV’s were parked in the church lot, something Shoemaker says is common in floods in Skagit County, people will bring their own trailers and RV’s and park it in the lot and use services provided by the Red Cross.

Spending the holiday at the shelter may be a different way to spend Thanksgiving, but Shoemaker says this community always steps up, and this evening was no exception. A turkey dinner was brought in by community members who wanted to make sure people who can’t be at home, get a home-cooked meal.

“Stuff happens, we’re all here, we’ve got each other,” said Sandi Potter.

A turkey dinner with strangers around a plastic dining table in a church isn’t exactly anyone’s vision of Thanksgiving, but here, it’s the true meaning of the holiday that really matters.

“I’m thankful for my family, and that we’re alive,” said E.J Potter.

The National Weather Service says the Skagit River will fall below flood stage by Friday morning.

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