After the flood: Grand Forks switches to clean up mode

It's not just ruined floors, sodden walls and electrical safety that Roger Soviskov is grappling with in the aftermath of the Grand Forks flood.

Café owner Roger Soviskov says there's a double flood whammy: real damage plus the long-term hit on business

A front-end loader scoops up thousands of sandbags from the main street of Grand Forks. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

It's not just ruined floors, sodden walls and electrical safety that Roger Soviskov is grappling with in the aftermath of the Grand Forks flood.

There's also the less obvious losses incurred by the extended interruption in business at his Jogas Espresso Cafe, which shut down almost two weeks ago when the floodwaters hit downtown Grand Forks.

For instance, on a warm Victoria Day long weekend, like the one just past, the slurpee machine would have normally been humming. Assuming the café had been open. And assuming that the flood had not destroyed the machine itself.

"We lost the slurpee machine. That's a few thousand dollars there just on one machine," said Soviskov. "We're looking probably at a couple of months shutdown or more. We won't know until the restoration company comes back."

Evacuation orders for 171 downtown Grand Forks addresses were rescinded on Tuesday, leaving Soviskov and many other business owners trying to wrap their heads around next steps in the aftermath of the worst flood on record. 

Jogas Espresso Cafe owner Roger Soviskov is still awaiting a full accounting of the flood damage and losses suffered at his downtown Grand Forks business. (Bob Keating/CBC)

On the main street, front end loaders worked to scoop up the mountains of sandbags that are no longer needed and street sweepers made multiple passes, trying to lift the sludge left behind by receding waters. 

Officials say both the Kettle and Granby Rivers are now back within their banks, but the destruction left behind is vast and arbitrary. 

In the meantime, there are currently about 12 addresses that remain on evacuation order. Though the evacuation order has been lifted in the downtown area, residents are still being asked to respect barricades and road closures and only access their homes by foot if necessary to allow crews space to remove temporary flood control structures.
 

The historic Gem Theatre in Grand Forks had waist high water inside during the worst of the flooding. It will need to be gutted. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

The Gem Theatre — B.C.'s oldest continually operating movie house — had waist high water inside during the worst of the flood and will need to be gutted.

But next door at the Luxe Spa only a centimetres of water inundated the ground floor. It could be back in business in just days.

Soviskov says it's hard to project the final price tag on all the damage to his café, nor project how long it will take to fully recover. 

"You miss operating most of the summer but that income, that's what carries you through the lean winter months," he said.

In the hard-hit North Ruckle neighbourhood, Dave Soroka and his wife, Nora, found out they could return to their home Tuesday after almost two weeks away.

"I think it's going to hit me harder when Nora and I go down there with our dog and actually walk through the door," Soroka told Radio West host Sarah Penton.

"We don't know what we're walking into. It could be severe damage or almost nothing."

Soroka says he hasn't been able to get up close to his house since it was evacuated, but after seeing water levels a little lower on Saturday, he expressed some optimism it may not have suffered too greatly.

Listen to the full interview with Dave Soroka:

In the hard-hit North Ruckle neighbourhood, Dave Soroka and his wife, Nora, found out they could return to their home Tuesday after almost two weeks away. 13:23

With files from Bob Keating, Jesse Johnston and CBC Radio One's Radio West