Storms, flood warning pause re-entry for evacuated Merritt residents

Dec 1 2021, 6:56 pm

The many Merritt, BC, residents still out of their homes due to flooding won’t be able to return until Friday at the earliest.

The City of Merritt posted an update Tuesday saying that an atmospheric river storm that hit Tuesday and a high flood risk means it can’t yet say for certain whether residents can access their properties on Friday, December 3.

“Infrastructure is still greatly impacted and crews continue to work on flushing and sampling our water system to ensure the system is safe for Merritt residents,” the City said. “If water overtops the banks and flooding occurs, then the infrastructure may once again be affected and plans to allow the return of residents … may be set back.”

Merritt is allowing residents back in phases, and residents in Phase 1 and Phase 2 areas were allowed to go home on November 27. Some Phase 3 people were allowed daytime access this week, but that was paused for Tuesday’s heavy storm.

Friday could see Phase 4 of returns begin, but it’s contingent on weather and Coldwater River levels.

Merritt evacuation

Residents of the northern purple zone were allowed back on November 27, but there’s still an evacuation order for the pink zone on the south side. Those residents are allowed daytime access only when weather permits. (City of Merritt)

BC’s River Forecast Centre issued a flood warning for the Coldwater River at Merritt on Wednesday morning, saying overnight temperatures increased significantly, which will lead to snow melt on the mountains surrounding the town.

In addition, another 70 millimetres of rain is forecast to hit the nearby Coquihalla Highway and Coquihalla Summit. That rain is expected to spill over and raise the Coldwater River and other Interior watersheds.

“These rivers are still recovering from the recent peak on Monday from the second storm … they are expected to be even flashier and rise higher than this past weekend.”

People are advised to stay away from fast-flowing rivers and potentially unstable riverbanks at this time.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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