05/25/2015 05:37 EDT | Updated 05/25/2016 05:59 EDT

Cache Creek Flood Forces Dozens To Abandon Their Homes

The province is offering help to affected locals that couldn't claim insurance.

CACHE CREEK, B.C. - With shovels and wheelbarrows, backhoes and dump trucks, residents of Cache Creek, B.C., spent Monday scooping up and hauling away mud and debris deposited across their community by a devastating weekend flood.

The violent storm that dumped more than 26 millimetres of rain on the Interior town in less than an hour Saturday could cost the community millions of dollars, a hefty toll lightened only by an announcement that financial aid from the province is on its way, said Mayor John Ranta.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton announced in Victoria that residents will be able to apply for disaster financial assistance, meaning the government will pay 80 per cent of damages exceeding $1,000 to a maximum $300,000 to accepted claimants.

"Oh, that's fantastic," said Ranta in an interview on Monday. "There was no guarantee that the disaster financial assistance would kick in."

Anton also said Premier Christy Clark will visit the village, located about 80 kilometres west of Kamloops, on Tuesday.

The village declared a state of emergency after the storm.

Ranta said he signed an evacuation order for 23 homes, an evacuation alert for about 40 other homes, and about 100 people sought shelter at a local community centre.

He expects the storm will cost the village at least $400,000 and local property owners millions more.

Ranta said one home was knocked off its foundation, with mud and debris filling its basement, and about six others could be condemned because of the damage they suffered.

Lawns and gardens were replaced by river channels, the waters of which also eroded soil around curbs and gutters, said Ranta.

"There are piles of debris everywhere in the community."

A local park was flooded, as was the fire hall, where volunteers spent about an hour clearing away debris that caved in a door, so they could move the emergency vehicles, he said.

Ranta said the water and debris even swept away some of the firefighters' gear and damaged equipment that allowed members to fill their self-contained breathing apparatus.

"It was unbelievable. It was horrendous. It was like nothing we've ever seen before," he said.

Backhoes and dump trucks operated by municipal staff from Cache Creek and nearby Ashcroft cleaned up the damage, and people went to work with shovels and wheelbarrows, he said.

A geotechnical assessment on nearby homes could be complete by the end of Monday, which means residents might be allowed to return home Tuesday or Wednesday, the mayor said.

The financial disaster assistance aid is available to homeowners, tenants, small business owners, farmers, charities and local governments who were unable to obtain insurance.

Residents who plan to file claims must do so with Emergency Management B.C. by Aug. 24.

-- by Keven Drews in Vancouver

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Photo gallery Cache Creek, B.C. Flooding, May 2015 See Gallery