Liberal leader Christy Clark interrupted her planned schedule on Saturday, May 6 to travel to Cache Creek, in the aftermath of flooding of the community and the disappearance of Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy, who went missing in the early hours of May 5 while checking water levels around town.
Clark met with some of the volunteers searching for Cassidy—including members of the Cache Creek Fire Department—viewed the damage caused by recent flooding, and spoke about the village’s resilience.
NDP leader John Horgan, who was in the Okanagan on May 6, said that he would be continuing with his planned events for the day.
Accompanied by Fraser-Nicola Liberal candidate Jackie Tegart and Cache Creek mayor John Ranta, Clark spoke first with members of some of the search and rescue teams from Kamloops, Pemberton, Chilliwack, Mission, Ridge Meadows, Vernon, and the Nicola Valley who were conducting the search.
Clark then went to the nearby fire hall, where she was shown the aftermath of the flooding of the Quartz Road culvert, directly across from the hall, on the evening of May 5. She helped volunteers place more sandbags in front of the fire hall, then spoke at length with Cache Creek’s acting fire chief, Tom Moe.
Speaking with reporters, Clark said “I was here in 2015, when there was a devastating flood in this community, and I learned then that people are incredibly resilient here. You see that with the whole community pitching in.
“Clayton Cassidy was head of the fire department here; he is one of those generous spirits who is incredibly humble, never asked for anything, and was always there. Mayor John Ranta said that having him be missing is like losing the spark plug out of your engine.
“All those folks working at the fire hall are missing their chief; one of their colleagues. We can’t forget how devastating this is for this small community.
“And what an incredible community it is. We will be here to support this community. I know they need government to be there for them, and we have their backs. We will be there.”
In response to a question as to how many searchers were looking for Cassidy, Ranta replied that the last he had heard, there were about 30 search and rescue volunteers looking. “We remain cautiously optimistic that he will be found alive, although hope is fading for that.
“This is a tragedy of epic proportions for the village of Cache Creek, to have somebody like Clayton Cassidy missing.”
Clark said that 30,000 sandbags had been deployed across the province to areas suffering flood damage, and that they could move tens of thousands more on 12-hours’ notice as people need them. “As you see here, we’ve got volunteers from Ashcroft and the community here in Cache Creek. We’re just about at capacity, but we still have more capacity, so should communities need more, we will deploy where needed on an urgent basis.
“Sadly, we have gotten really good at dealing with crises: forest fires, floods. We are going to spare no expense, and we are going to move as nimbly and quickly as we can to support people.”
Clark said that last year the province allocated $50 million for flood mitigation, and this year another $60 million. “From my perspective, the changes that climate change is bringing our communities, like these kinds of unexpected floods, means we’re going to have to continue making those investments in flood mitigation. Mayor Ranta has already begun a flood plain management plan.”
When asked what people could do to help the community, Ranta said “Pray for Clayton Cassidy. Other than that, I think we’re in good shape here as far as dealing with the flooding tragedy goes. We’ve got all the equipment and resources we need to deal with the tragedy we face.”
Clark said that “I think one of the things that RCMP and search and rescue might say is that at this point we have enough resources on the ground. They really want to make sure that searchers, and the folks that are doing the flood mitigation, are able to do it without having their efforts hindered.
“I know people really do want to help, but should we need that, we’ll certainly make that call. But [Ranta] is right; let’s pray for everybody who’s struggling, let’s pray for Clayton to be found safe and sound.”
RELATED: Search continues for missing Cassidy
— Ashley Wadhwani (@ashwadhwani) May 6, 2017