Floodwater at the Cache Creek fire hall. Photo: Barbara Roden.

Highways reopened, but Cache Creek braces for more flooding

As floodwater in Cache Creek recedes, all eyes turn to the Bonaparte River, which has yet to crest.

A state of local emergency has been declared by Cache Creek mayor John Ranta, in the wake of flooding on April 27–28 and the anticipation of more flooding when the Bonaparte River crests early next week.

“It’s worse than it was in 2017,” said Ashcroft RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Kathleen Thain, referring to last year’s flood event in the community. “In terms of speed and volume, there’s no question about it.”

A higher than usual snowpack, combined with sudden high temperatures late last week, caused Cache Creek to breach banks and culverts starting at approximately 5 p.m. on Friday, April 27. Floodwater and debris swept through some sections of the village, damaging several buildings and flooding roads and parking lots, causing the temporary closure of Highways 1 and 97 to and through the village. As of the time of writing, all roads are once more open to traffic.

Sandbags had already been placed outside the fire hall on Quartz Road, and more sandbags were deployed to ward off the rising water. The hall did not sustain any damage, but vehicles had been moved to outside the building as a precautionary measure in case the hall flooded, as it did in 2015 and 2017.

Village crew members, firefighters, local contractors, and volunteers worked through the night to prevent further flooding. On April 28, crews worked all day to clear debris and to place rip rap along Cache Creek near the Quartz Road culvert. Village staff and provincial officials are continuing to monitor the water level in Cache Creek, which carved out new channels below the Brookside Campground before receding on April 28.

“We expect to see [water levels in Cache Creek] go back up, but not to the degree of April 27,” said Thain. “We think we’ve seen the worst there.” She added, however, that flooding on Cache Creek and the Bonaparte River is being treated as two separate events this year, with the Bonaparte not expected to crest until May 1 or 2. The water level there is also being monitored, and it is expected that this year’s levels will be the highest in 20 years.

Several dozen volunteers filled thousands more sandbags at the Cache Creek park and at the fire hall on April 28, with a steady stream of residents pulling up to collect sandbags to safeguard their properties. Anyone whose home is at risk is urged to take all necessary precautions, including moving valuables to higher ground and preparing a “grab and go” kit containing essentials such as medications.

The public is also being cautioned not to go near creek or river beds, as banks could be undercut by rushing water and can easily give way. Parents should closely supervise their children and stress the importance of not going near the water.

Anyone working near watercourses should wear a personal flotation device, and should not work alone. Make sure there is at least one other person with you, so that emergency personnel can be quickly notified in case of an accident.

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Rip rap being placed in Cache Creek near the Quartz Road culvert, which was breached on the evening of April 27. Photo: Barbara Roden.

Volunteers filling sandbags at the Cache Creek fire hall on April 28. Photo: Barbara Roden.

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