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Flood victim denied provincial assistance

The only time Kim Van Tine has asked for help, it's not there.
Shayna Van Tine (left) and father Kim Van Tine (right) with a group of young volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints

Kim Van Tine was a happy man on Saturday afternoon: he, his family and a volunteer work crew from the Church of Jesus Christmas of the Latter-Day Saints had just finished digging the mud that was two feet deep from their basement.

Now that that’s done, he can get the electrical and gas work done. The big thing, he said, is getting the services back up and running so they can move back into their house.

Although they have a yellow card in their window, indicating significant damage to be repaired before the electricity and gas can be reconnected, the Van Tines have already been denied Disaster Financial Assistance.

Van Tine applied for assistance on the Friday morning following the May 23 flood. The next day he received his letter of denial. He’s now working on his appeal, which can take up to 30 days to decide.

“We’re just asking to cover the basics,” he said. “Services and stuff that makes a house liveable.”

The cache creek runs behind their house. It’s normally a pleasant little stream  that burbles along Hwy 1 east of town. It runs through a culvert under Quartz Rd. and then another under Hwy 97 until it enters the Bonaparte River behind the Cache Creek Elementary School.

On May 23, debris carried along by heavy rainwater blocked the large culverts and caused the water to divert around them.

For a while, said Van Tine, the creek bed behind their house was dry as the water diverted through their neighbour’s garage and through their front yard.

It entered the creek bed again by Quartz Rd., only to divert over that culvert, carrying water and mud through the firehall.

Not only did it course through their front yard, it  filled their basement with six feet of water and left behind two feet of mud.

“Like everyone else, a flash flood was the last thing we expected,” said Van Tine.

He said at first he didn’t think anything about the rain. Then he noticed a TV float by, and then a couch. He looked out the front window and saw traffic backed up on the highway, thinking to himself, “This can’t be good.”

Right about then, the creek started diverting into his basement.

“When mother nature decides to take a little swipe, it’s quite impressive,” he said, adding that it was a blessing no one was killed or seriously hurt.

“I think people have a false expectation of what the province is going to provide for them,” he said.

The destruction to people’s homes has been tremendous, he said, and people are in shock. They listen with hope when the Premier promises to “err on the side of compassion.”

He says he would like to speak with MLA Jackie Tegart about his assistance claim. She hasn’t been available, he says, but her staff has been very helpful.

“I think as our MLA she would have the ability to speak to the Premier about it in detail,” he said. “When you’re in a disaster situation, you want to do things quickly.”

“I’ve lived and worked in BC for 58 years and never once asked for anything,” he said, “but this time we could use some help.”