NEWS

Cache Creek homes under evacuation order after weekend flooding

05/25/2015 09:41 EDT | Updated 05/25/2016 05:59 EDT
An evacuation order has been issued in Cache Creek, B.C., after a violent storm tore through the province's Interior, leaving a trail of flooding and destruction.

The evacuation order affecting about 40 residents came after Mayor John Ranta declared a state of emergency on Sunday.

It will keep people away until crews are able to assess the stability of the slopes above residences that are deemed at risk.

Some people will likely be allowed to returned briefly to a riverside trailer park where several homes were washed away in the flood, to gather their belongings with a police escort, but it could be weeks or even months before some residents are allowed to move back home, said Ranta.

"We'll do our best to ensure that they're allowed back as quickly as possible if [their homes] are deemed to be safe," he said.

Another 80 residents remain under an evacuation alert, meaning they must be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Provincial assistance sought

Ranta told a community meeting Sunday night that declaring a state of emergency could mean more financial support from the province, and he will apply for provincial disaster relief funds.

He hopes many homeowners not covered by insurance will receive money from the province for rebuilding.

"Imagine how devastating it would be to lose your home to a rainfall event and not have insurance coverage," he said.

As of Sunday evening, about 60 homes in the village of about 1,000 had been abandoned and nearly 120 people had registered at the emergency operations centre.

On Sunday, B.C. Premier Christy Clark tweeted her support for residents affected by the flooding.

Local Member of the Legislative Assembly Jackie Tegart said the situation is especially devastating for a semi-desert settlement like Cache Creek, which is unaccustomed to high levels of rainfall. But she noted that the community was banding together to recover.

"Small communities help each other," said Tegart. "And certainly from what I've seen and heard from people on the ground that's exactly what's happening."

Rain and hail flood village

On Saturday, more than 26 millimetres of rain and hail fell on the area in a single hour, sending detritus-strewn mud and water pouring through the community's streets and shutting down two highways.

Ranta said he was in his car when the storm began shortly after 4 p.m. on Saturday, and that by 6:30 p.m. the village was devastated.

"It started off as a trickle that was going down the storm sewers, to a river that was running down the road with debris floating along," he said, describing the intensity of the rainfall as "unbelievable."

"It was raining just like you can't describe — rain combined with hail, coming down like the sky was falling."

Charlene Milward's 2,000-square-foot home is one residence where insurance may not cover the damage.

Her home was shoved off its foundation and the basement was filled with mud.

"She's pretty numb right now," said her mother, Cheryl. "She's in disbelief."

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