Some residents of flooded Merritt, B.C. will be able to go home soon, mayor confirms

B.C. floods: Some Merritt residents to return home Tuesday.

The mayor of the flooded city of Merritt, B.C., has confirmed that some evacuated residents will be able to return home in the coming days.

In a Sunday update posted on Facebook, Linda Brown said the municipality has completed its rapid damage assessments and will reveal its “return to home plan” on Monday.

“All properties have now received a placard indicating red, yellow or green status,” said Brown.

“Bringing Merittonians home as been our first priority and we will be able to bring some of you home in the next few days.”

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Residents will receive a more detailed explanation of their green, yellow and red placards — revealing the condition of their properties — on Monday.

On its website, the city says ‘green’ indicates there are no restrictions for use or re-entry to a home once the relevant evacuation order has been rescinded.

‘Yellow’ indicates restricted entry or use, that may include use of designated portions of a property only, or a requirement to complete repairs before use.

‘Red’ means a building should not be entered as it is unsafe due to structural damage, geotechnical hazards or both.

Merritt was evacuated on Nov. 15 as an atmospheric river drenched the southern part of the province, wreaking havoc on critical infrastructure, including homes.

Four people died as a result of the disaster and thousands of people were displaced.

While the provincial government has declared a state of emergency, on Sunday, the City of Merritt extended its localized state of emergency to Nov. 29.

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“We continue to run tests on the drinking water, but these tests take time to complete,” said Brown in her update.

“I know people want more details, but these tests take a minimum of 24 hours to run as they literally involve letting any bacteria in the sample grow and seeing what happens.”

Early results of the tests “are good,” Brown added, and the wastewater treatment plant is close to being functional once more.

In a CKNW interview on Monday morning, Merritt’s public information officer, Greg Lowis, said a “phased rescission” of the city’s evacuation order will be announced later on Monday.

Over the weekend, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has said the province will retroactively reimburse expenses for B.C. residents who had to cover the cost of emergency accommodations due to evacuation orders.

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Crews still assessing damage in Merritt a week after devastating flood

Last week, an estimated 7,000 Merritt residents were evacuated. Many were sent to Kelowna or Kamloops, where emergency shelters had space.

City crews are still assessing the damage, but to date, the Middlesborough Bridge has collapsed and countless homes, roads and vehicles have been destroyed.

During the flood, the Coldwater River, which joins the Nicola River in Merritt, rerouted itself, and city staff are currently examining options to return it to its former course.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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