An evacuation order was issued for several low-lying properties in Cache Creek late on April 20.
An early snow melt caused by sudden warm temperatures has caused a rapid rise in the waters of Cache Creek itself. The rising water levels are about two weeks ahead of when they would normally be expected.
The nine affected properties are along Cache Creek between Quartz Road and the Brookside Campground. The Cache Creek Motor Inn, to the west of Quartz Road, is also under Evacuation Order.
RCMP officers went door-to-door issuing the orders at 9 p.m. on April 20. Those evacuated are being directed to the Cache Creek Community Hall, where an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has been set up to help provide them with food and accommodation.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, food is a bit scarce, because a lot of restaurants are offering restricted service or aren’t open at all,” says Wendy Coomber, the communications director for the Cache Creek EOC. She adds that accommodation has not been an issue, with those evacuated able to stay locally.
The Village of Cache Creek issued an Evacuation Alert early on April 20, and has been working with engineers and contractors since April 18 to help bolster the bank in several areas. Contractors with equipment are also ready to be deployed at short notice if necessary.
“Something new this year is that we have hired engineers to be specific to flooding,” says Coomber. “They’ve been helping us with recommendations and with the resources we need.”
The section of Quartz Road between Stage Road and Highway 1 has been closed off. That area has suffered from flooding in 2015, 2017, and 2018, with the nearby Cache Creek fire hall sustaining significant damage during the heavy floods of 2015.
Many people, including Village crew members, Cache Creek firefighters, and volunteers, have been working to safeguard the fire hall and adjacent properties with sandbags, no-posts, and gabions (wirework containers filled with rocks that can act as a dam). The rising water in Cache Creek breached the road late on April 20, but no damage was sustained by nearby properties.
Coomber says that she walked near the creek on the morning of April 21 and noted that the properties along it looked pretty good. However, the water has not yet reached its peak, and she says that engineers have told here there is still a fair bit of snow on one mountain that feeds the creek.
“The rain that’s forecast today and tomorrow won’t help,” she adds.
High water in Cache Creek normally lasts three or four days, she notes, and hopes that the creek simmers down soon. Meanwhile, focus is shifting to water levels in the Bonaparte River, which also flows through the Village. The water level in the Bonaparte is rising rapidly, and is expected to continue to rise as daytime high temperatures in the area hover around the 20 C. mark for the rest of the week.
Residents looking to protect their properties can fill sandbags at three locations in town: the Cache Creek park, the Cache Creek Library, and across from the post office on Old Cariboo Road. Bags and sand are available so that people can fill and take what they need.
“It’s part of the COVID-19 situation,” says Coomber of the set-up. “Normally we would have had a sandbagging bee before now.” However, physical distancing protocols have meant that no such event was able to be held this year.
Emergency Management BC has a helpful Flood Preparedness Guide, which includes instructions on how to build sandbag walls, at https://bit.ly/3atHOXD.