B.C. village declares state of emergency after devastating flash floods
May 24, 2015
A village in the B.C. interior has declared a state of emergency after a violent storm on Saturday evening triggered flash flooding in the area.
The storm hammered the village of Cache Creek with torrential rain and hail, causing the Bonaparte River that runs through the community to overflow.
The village's mayor, John Ranta, said that between 30 to 35 homes have been rendered uninhabitable by the disaster.
"The people that lived in those homes are either staying with friends or neighbours, or the emergency services centre has put them up in motels overnight," Ranta told CTV Vancouver.
Resident Tony Kovacs’ house was damaged in the storm.
He was trapped inside his home with his daughter and granddaughter as waves of water, mud and debris made venturing outside treacherous.
"We could not come out the house because the water was very high ... and the mud was most dangerous," said Kovacs.
Christina Borg was also trapped inside her home with her family as they watched the water levels rise.
"(I was trying) to keep my daughter calm, so it was like, 'breathe Christina, you're fine.' But it was really scary," Borg said.
Borg said she could hear a "rumbling" as cars, swept up by the flood, smashed up against the house.
Charlene Milward's home was damaged beyond repair. The flood knocked the dwelling off of its foundation and it has been filled with mud.
"I'm in shock, I don't know what (else) to say," Milward said.
On Sunday, friends and even complete strangers showed up at her home to help her salvage her possessions.
"I'm very happy with the support," Milward said.
Some residences and municipal buildings in the village were partially under water during the ordeal. One vehicle and two mobile-home trailers were also washed into the river.
"The whole road is completely washed out and parts of the mountain behind it were coming down," Cache Creek resident Thalia Ochoa told CTV News Channel.
"Some cars and some trailers were actually floating down what used to be the street - it was pretty intense," she added.
Fellow Cache Creek resident Marcie Down said the heavy downpours also caused a small creek to spill over its banks.
"(It) totally overflowed its banks and came rush down ... into many of our driveways, flooding backyards (and) going into basements," Down said.
"There's debris all over.”
Down said that the local fire station has been hit hard by the flooding.
"(It) almost had like a raging river going through the department," Down said.
"There was so much mud, sticks and logs going through there (that) in order to get the equipment out ... they needed to dig out first.”
Search and rescue crews were called in to help with the disaster.
Alan Hobler, the volunteer search manager for Kamloops Search and Rescue, said he and his team were deployed to the area at 5 p.m. Saturday, and by that time, the flood waters had receded.
He added that many parts of the town saw only minor damage, but there were also some areas of "very heavy damage."
"It was pretty devastating ... there was one road that was almost entirely washed out and a small creek that came up very high in water level and basically ran through the town," said Hobler.
Kamloops Search and Rescue conducted a helicopter survey and used a search dog to ensure that no one had been caught in the flood waters.
Highway 1 and Highway 97 were closed in both directions near Cache Creek on Saturday, but have since been reopened.
Down said that the community has rallied together in response to the disaster.
"Neighbours are helping neighbours, people are meeting at the hall, local restaurants are bringing in pizzas, sandwiches - whatever they can to help," said Down.
Tweets from the scene show several buildings partially under water. Other areas are littered with debris from the flooding.
Video video link: http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=620215