It’s normally brushfires that worry residents in Cache Creek at this time of year, but last Saturday evening an hour-long storm of rain, hail, thunder and lightning battered the town.
Hail fell from the sky while water coursed down the surrounding hillsides and then streets, etching new pathways and leaving a path of muddy destruction. No injuries were reported, but at least three residences moved off of their foundations and left uninhabitable, one trailer park evacuated with more under evacuation alert, 126 residents had registered with local Emergency Social Services, representing 60 impacted homes.
Several other homes, the school and at least two restaurants reported water and mud damage, mostly to basements. Storm-caused torrents severely undercut a large part of Stage Rd., a portion of the bridge crossing Hwy 1 by the Husky, and several private properties.
The rapidly falling rain rolled off the hillsides and gathered mud and debris, flowing into dry creekbeds and then onto Stage Rd. where it flowed like another river, spreading mud and debris along its path out to Hwy 1. Cache creek overflowed because of the debris buildup, sending eight inches of mud into the nearby firehall and covering that section of Quartz Rd. On Old Cariboo Rd., the mud and rock came off the hills lining the road and pushed trailers in the Riverside trailer park away from their foundations.
Residents quickly found out that their insurance companies would not cover damaged caused by a flood. However, the Vilage applied for and received Disaster Relief Assistance from the province. That was announced Monday afternoon and will pay qualifying claimants 80 per cent of the value of their claims to a maximum of $300,000.
Several groups and inviduals are also collecting donations for the residents impacted by the flood.
The Village called a public meeting on Sunday night to reassure the public that help was coming and to answer questions.
“This is a disaster,” said Mayor John Ranta. “An historic event. There’s been nothing like this in the 45 years I’ve lived here.”
The village has placed several other homes along Old Cariboo Road on evacuation alert while it conducts a slope assessment and analysis of the surrounding hills to find out if there will be further sloughing.
Many of those who packed the hall for the meeting wondered what they were supposed to do with the debris they’d cleaned up, and those who were evacuated wondered when they would be allowed home.
Ranta said the analysis of the hills would hopefully take no more than four eays. If the hills were stable, those residents who were evacuated because of them would be allowed to return home
He told the audience that getting everything straightened out was going to be a long process.