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Some evacuation orders rescinded as flood threat recedes in Cache Creek

Bonaparte River water levels dropping but Sage and Sands Trailer Park still on evacuation order
Flooding in Cache Creek Park on May 10. Water levels are receding, but the park remains closed to prevent damage. (Photo credit: Tim Gross)

On May 15 the Village of Cache Creek rescinded several evacuation orders which were put in place last week due to the threat of flooding in the community, with several properties on Old Cariboo Road, Nugget Road, and Collins Road downgraded from evacuation order to evacuation alert. As of May 16, however, the residents of 701 Trans-Canada Highway (Sage and Sands Trailer Park) were still under evacuation order, as the dyke there needs to be assessed by professional engineers.

READ MORE: Dozens of Cache Creek properties on evacuation order as Bonaparte River rises

The entire village is on Stage 1 water restrictions apart from properties at 944, 956, and 1055 Old Cariboo Road, which remain on Stage 4 restrictions (essential use only). The entire village is on a Boil Water Advisory until further notice, and residents might notice decreased water pressure and increased turbidity in their municipal water. Residents are also being warned to stay away from all river banks, as they have been badly undermined and are unsafe.

The Ministry of Transportation is working on sections of the highway through the community that were undermined or washed out. Information Officer Wendy Coomber says that while it was hoped that a temporary fix would be in place for the Victoria Day long weekend on May 19, traffic through the community is still single-lane alternating, and travellers should expect delays.

READ MORE: Highways 1 and 97 in Cache Creek reopen to single-lane traffic

However, she added that most of the businesses in town have reopened, as has Cache Creek Elementary School. It opened again on May 15, after having been closed for more than a week, with students being bussed to Desert Sands Community School in Ashcroft.

Coomber says that both Quartz and Stage Roads have reopened to traffic, although the stretch of Quartz Road between Highway 1 and Stage Road remains closed. She adds that work is continuing to remove the tons of mud and debris from the village, and that the Emergency Operations Centre had contracted with a debris manager to come up with a plan for debris management.

“They put together a package for residents about what will and will not be accepted at the Eco-Depot, how to get rid of hazardous material, and tips on how to get rid of sediment and wood debris.”

The fire hall was being pressure-washed and equipment was being moved back into it. “It’s structurally okay, but will need a bit of work here and there to repair damaged areas.”

READ MORE: Cache Creek residents urged to conserve water as flood assessment underway

While the cost of clean-up, repair, and other associated expenses has not been determined, Coomber says that the cost to the village after the flooding in 2020 was around $700,000, which does not include the cost of damages suffered by businesses and residents. She expects that the cost to the village this year could exceed $1 million.

On May 16, the province announced that Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) is available for eligible British Columbians who were affected by flooding between April 27 and May 16. This assistance covers all flood-affected Indigenous communities, electoral areas, and municipalities within the geographic boundaries of certain areas, including the Village of Cache Creek and Bonaparte First Nation.

DFA is available to homeowners, residential tenants, business owners, local governments, Indigenous communities, farmers, corporation-owned properties, and charitable organizations that were unable to obtain insurance to cover disaster-related losses. By regulation, DFA is unable to compensate for losses for which insurance was reasonably and readily available.

Those affected can access the DFA application online at Applications must be submitted to the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness within 90 days of the event declaration.

The geographic areas for this event may be expanded as additional information regarding impacts becomes known.

Financial assistance is provided for each accepted claim at 80 per cent of the amount of total eligible damage that exceeds $1,000, to a maximum payment of $400,000. Claims may be made in more than one category (e.g., homeowner and farm owner), and a homeowner or residential tenant must show that the home is their principal residence. Seasonal or recreational properties are not eligible for assistance.

DFA is intended to compensate for sudden, unexpected, and uninsurable losses. This may include building repairs, replacement of essential personal effects, eligible equipment and inventory, and clean up and debris removal. DFA is limited to restoring actual damage caused by a specific disaster that has been declared eligible for compensation.

Unseasonably high temperatures in the region had raised concerns about sudden and rapid snowmelt leading to increased flooding in the Bonaparte River over the weekend of May 12, but this largely did not materialize.

“Looking at the BC River Forecast Centre graphs we weren’t affected by snowmelt,” says Coomber.

“If there was snow left in the watershed it didn’t have an impact on water levels in the Bonaparte, which are trending downward, so that’s good news for us.”

She notes that while the volume of water in the Bonaparte last week reached historic levels, the water was not topping the bank the way it did in 2020.

“We seemed to have a narrower river then, but a lot of people lost backyards and other properties in 2020, so there’s a greater span from bank to bank these days.”

The Cache Creek park remains closed due to flooding, which has been caused by water seeping up from the water table, not from overland flooding. People are asked to stay out of the park until further notice, for safety reasons and to prevent more damage to the grass and soil. The flooding is largely confined to the back of the park near the concession.

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Barbara Roden

About the Author: Barbara Roden

I joined Black Press in 2012 working the Circulation desk of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal and edited the paper during the summers until February 2016.
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