British Columbia

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to fear of flooding

Ten properties, including homes and businesses, have already been evacuated as the community braces against rising water levels.

The community has declared a local state of emergency until April 25

Flood warnings now span a wide area of central British Columbia. In the Village of Cache Creek about one third of residents could be forced to flee their homes if water levels continue to rise. (Kamloops Search and Rescue/Facebook)

Residents in Cache Creek are on edge as rising flood waters cause evacuation alerts and orders in the small village in central British Columbia.

Almost one third of the population, 300 residents, are currently on evacuation alert and as of the morning of April 22, 10 properties, including homes, a campground and three local motels had been evacuated due to rising water levels in the creek.

Wendy Coomber, village councillor and spokesperson, said officials were expecting the creek to peak Tuesday night and was relieved to find Wednesday that it had dropped somewhat. However, with rain in the forecast Wednesday and Thursday, she says the community is still bracing for the worst.

Coomber said rainfall can also cause the Bonaparte River to overflow and there are about 140 residents living along the river that could be forced to flee in the coming days.

"There are a lot of people here who have had sleepless nights," said Coomber Wednesday in an interview on Daybreak Kamloops.

Residents of Cache Creek are used to the region flooding, as seen here in 2015, but this year an above average snowpack combined with above average temperatures are a recipe for disaster earlier in the year than normal. (Submitted by Devon Lindsay)

She said residents are used to flood warnings, but this one came earlier in the season than most years. 

The B.C. River Forecast Centre says recent warm temperatures have increased the rate of snowmelt, but because the ground is still frozen much of the water is running overland, increasing the flood risk.

Coomber said the situation this year has also been further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said normally residents would get together to prepare sandbags and this year physical distancing made that impossible. Many local restaurants are also closed, making it a challenge to feed people who have to leave their homes.

Anyone who is forced to evacuate is given help from Cache Creek emergency social services, which is a provincially-run service that provides accommodations and meals during disaster circumstances.

Coomber said she has concerns some residents are too blasé about the flooding and say they are not that worried because the threat is present almost every year.

"Are you willing to take a chance with your life and your family and everything you hold dear?" said Coomber.

Cache Creek Fire Chief Clayton Cassidy died in the spring of 2017 when he was checking water levels and was presumably swept into the creek. (Government of B.C.)

In May 2017, Cache Creek Fire Chief Clayton Cassidy, 59, died while he was checking water levels in the creek, presumably swept away in the flood waters. It took more than two weeks to locate his body.

Flood warnings now span a wide area of central British Columbia and the B.C. River Forecast Centre says river levels will continue to rise through Wednesday.

The Village of Cache Creek has declared a local state of emergency until April 25.  Evacuation information and alerts can be found on the village website.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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