Cache Creek Mayor declares state of emergency after flash flooding, storms

WATCH: Torrential rainfall led to a state of emergency being declared in the small British Columbia community of Cache Creek. Reid Feist has the story.

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.

Mayor John 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. There are 197 people registered at emergency social services.

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

The Village of Cache Creek has set up a fundraising account so you can donate to help.

On Monday 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.

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Following a public meeting at 6:00 p.m. Sunday, 100-plus residents were escorted back to their homes by the RCMP to gather pharmaceuticals and other necessities, says the Mayor. They were evacuated until “we have an opportunity to assess the safety of them potentially returning to their homes,” added Ranta. It could be weeks or even months before they are allowed to return.

Several homes have been damaged or completely destroyed. According to Ranta, some of the homes could be declared condemned, with insurance not covering their restoration.

WATCH: Cache Creek Flooding

Highway 1 and Highway 97 were closed in both directions in the community on Saturday evening due to the flooding, but have since been reopened.

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Environment Canada said the Cache Creek storm produced 36 mm in total rainfall, with 26 mm of rain recorded between 4 and 5 p.m. and another 10 mm falling between 5 and 8 p.m.

Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Tom Moe described the storm as an hour-long cloudburst that sent debris down a mountain.

He said dozens of homes were affected by the storm with three homes suffering serious damage. A mobile home was pushed off its blocks and a home east of town had its garage taken out. Another home near Stage Road took the brunt of the debris and water, said Moe.

Ranta told Global News that emergency social services are operating out of a local community hall.

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.

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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.

Merritt was also hit hard by a passing storm that resident Shalyn Byrne said brought hail, high winds, and torrential rain.

“It was to the point where people were pulling over on the side of the road,” Byrne said, adding that water was running like a river down the street.

Environment Canada has now downgraded a severe thunderstorm warning to a watch for the South Thompson and Nicola Valley regions.

A severe thunderstorm watch is still in effect for 100 Mile and the Cariboo. According to Environment Canada’s website, nickel-sized hail has been reported with this storm. Residents are also cautioned to watch for possible washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts.

-with files from Canadian Press and Jeremy Hunka