It was Lynden’s biggest winter storm in decades.
For a week straight, snowfall pounded Lynden area like no other in the state. Freezing rain layered dangerous ice on nearly everything. Strong winds brought bone-chilling cold that piled snow in large drifts and took down ice-laden power lines and trees.
And the Lynden community responded in a big way.
As conditions worsened, residents stayed home when possible. City crews plowed roads around the clock, but it wasn’t enough. But seemingly every tractor in the area — large and small, new and old — was re-purposed to clear snow from roads and driveways.
Nick Snydar of Snydar Farms Custom Farming, pictured in the John Deere tractor above, was very active all week volunteering his time and resources. “Just did what I could to help the local farmers and neighbors we serve in the county.”
With his large tractor, Snydar focused mainly on county roads surrounding Lynden. “I know what a struggle it is for milk trucks and feed trucks to get around to the farms and the county snowplow trucks couldn’t keep up!” He even pulled out a stuck snowplow, in addition to Sheriff’s vehicle, other large farming equipment, and around a dozen cars.
Inside city limits and out, farmers could be seen day and night helping their neighbors out. The ourLynden Facebook page was filled with these stories:
“Two guys in tractors plowed our driveway earlier this week. No clue who they were but a big thank you for taking the time out of your day!” – Rebekah Roberts
“Tractor just came through Pine, what a great guy! I thanked him for all his hard work, he’s clearing some storm drains and deep spots.” – Carmen Harriman
“I don’t know who has been plowing Benson in the tractor and helping with side roads off of Benson by the runway….but THANK YOU!!!!!! We truly appreciate all [your] efforts!!! Stay safe and warm everyone!!” – Kristan Thoms
“I’m a Senior citizen & really appreciate getting my driveway cleared after being snowbound since last Friday. I shoveled some but the job was just too great!!” – Marlene Winkleman
Even Mayor Scott Korthuis got behind the wheel of a tractor clear neighborhood streets. Says Korthuis, “It was fun to clear the street for my neighbors using a friend’s backhoe. I even got a text from Representative Vincent Buys asking if he could lend a hand to the City with a tractor from his dad’s farm. So many folks helped this way and played a vital role, like citizens who pitched in to dig openings to storm water drains all around town to prevent subsequent flooding. Our community is exemplary.”
Leslie Honcoop, President of Whatcom County Farm Bureau, explains: “Winter storms are dangerous, and require extreme effort from farmers to keep the farm running as it needs to. Still, as they clear the road to get supplies in to, or product out of, their farms, they willingly take the time to clear away snow for the neighbors, and pull stuck drivers out.”
Indeed, during and after this storm several farmers experienced barn collapses among other needs, and Honcoop explains, “When trouble comes to your farm, you find out you are not alone — farmers are quick to lend a hand. They know what it’s like to need one, and gratefully pay it forward.”
As cars, pickups and semi trucks slid off the road and into the ditch, local towing companies struggled to keep up even as they worked around the clock. Lynden-area Berk’s Towing shared on their Facebook page:
“Our list for tows is long this week but we keep getting calls to cancel because a wonderful Lynden farmer came along with their tractor and pulled another stranded vehicle out! Thank you Lynden farmers!”
Berk’s received an outpouring of support, from locals such as Glenice Hanna who wrote, “Wow, not only the farmers, but Berk’s Towing for being grateful instead of mad that they are taking their business. Class act. Well done Berk’s Towing.” Rita Ratzlaff, who owns Berk’s with husband Kerry, explained that she put up the post after getting the fourth call in a row that a Lynden farmer had helped a customer who had been waiting hours for a tow in blizzard-like weather. “In storms like these we do our best to keep up, prioritizing emergency calls first, and we’re so glad to hear when customers get pulled out by a farmer or neighbor.”
Nonetheless, Berk’s crews continued to work around the clock on jobs large and small, clearing a couple large semi trucks from the Guide Meridian on Wednesday.
Delivery drivers shared stories of kindness along their routes.
Lynden-based U.S. Postal carrier Josh Rondael shared, “The people of Lynden are great at helping each other out. With all this snow I’ve gotten stuck several times and never once had to call a tow or dig myself out — there was always a friendly neighbor or passerby who stopped and helped.”
Rebecca Smith shared on Facebook, “Thank you to the sweet lady who gave my son a bag of candy when he delivered the Tribune to her in crazy blowing snowy conditions! It made his day!”
Rondael added that many along his route offered him hot cocoa, coffee, tea and other treats during the blustery cold days of the storm. “We really appreciate being appreciated!”
Jessica Libolt wrote to ourLynden, “A friend at my insurance agency came and helped me put my chains on allowing me to get groceries and take my son around for his Lynden Tribune paper route.”
Neighbors checked in, shoveled snow, and shared resources.
Those who didn’t have tractors to plow helped within their own neighborhoods. Several folks shared stories with ourLynden of their own experiences:
“I had two different sets of friends stop at my house last evening to check in on me and see if I needed anything before they headed home in their trucks!!!” – Donna Bartlett Miller
“A neighbor dug out our alley on Lupin Street with a tractor, we were all snowed in because of the drifts!!” – Jaelyn Libolt
“Our neighbors son had one of his employees clean his parents driveway and then came over and did our driveway; a big thank you since Gord was busy digging out trucks and trailers at his business.” – Janice Bogaard
“Had a white pickup truck full of teenage boys pushing out cars stuck in the snow on Garden Drive!” – Susan Wigboldy DeJong
Businesses closed early or worked late to help how they could.
Many local retail and restaurant businesses closed early to allow their employees to drive home safely during the worst days of the storm. Meanwhile, others (including public service workers) worked around to clock to keep area residents as safe and comfortable as possible. While power went out on multiple occasions to many around Lynden, it was restored as quickly as possible without extended outages.
Lynden’s not perfect — but you make it what it is.
In the midst of all of the positive stories of neighbors helping neighbors, surely some didn’t get the help they needed or wanted. While Lynden is certainly far from perfect, it’s our people that make us different.
So, whether you received or gave help during this storm, or just witnessed it happening around you:
OUR HOPE IS THAT YOU’RE ENCOURAGED TO BUILD MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS AND TAKE TIME TO SERVE OTHERS, whether in a storm or on a sunny day. This is how our community can continue to be great for all who call lynden home for many decades to come.