2021 FLOOD

Review + Repair

Flood 2021 Overview

In November 2021, the City of Merritt and the Nicola Valley (as well as several other BC communities) experienced a disastrous triple atmospheric river event that led to wide spread flooding of the Coldwater River.  The water rose in the middle of the night, putting many lives in danger. While there were 37 swiftwater rescues, there was thankfully no loss of life. The torrential waters led to dike failures, a bridge collapse, the failure of the Water System and Wastewater Treatment Plant, and extensive municipal, commercial, and residential property damage amounting to about $150 million. School, Healthcare and essential services ceased to operate. The entire community of more than 7,000 people had to be evacuated. While most families returned to their homes after three weeks, a year later 5% of residents are still misplaced and major repairs are still ongoing. View Infographic.

Damage & Repairs

The City of Merritt employed external consultants and contractors to complete damage assessments and repairs.
Projects completed or in progress include:


  • Middlesborough Bridge on Voght Street (initial bridge design complete; applied for funding; waiting for approvals)
  • Shoring up bridges and river banks with riprap at Houston Street and Main Street bridges (detailed design in progress)
  • Coldwater River water main crossing & back-up water line for Collettville (initial design complete; construction RFP underway; target completion: end of July 2023). Note a new water supply from Active Mountain PRV also in progress.
  • Voght Park Oval/Track (detailed design in progress; pending funding)
  • Claybank RV Park (target late 2023)
  • Sewer main inspections and repairs in entire flood area (financing, inspections, and repairs in progress; target completion: end of 2023).
  • Dike Deconstruction Plan & Repairs (inspections/assessments in progress): While significant repairs were conducted on existing dikes along the Coldwater River, the City has engaged the Province to complete further inspections.
  • Garcia Street Turnaround: The flood washed away the end of Garcia Street, resulting in the loss of a home as well as the turning space for emergency vehicles. The City is working with the Province to reinstate space to allow emergency and support vehicles to turn around.


  • Wastewater Treatment Plant (complete)
  • Dike Repairs (complete | further assessments in progress)
  • Water System Wells (complete)
  • Canford Avenue (complete)
  • Greater Flood Area roadworks (project: Fall 2022 – Summer 2023)
  • Centennial Park (complete)
  • Dog Park  in Voght Park (complete)
  • Transitional Housing (funding received for 31 manufactured homes; applications for rentals issued and received, first units arrive January/February 2023)
  • 17 danger trees along the river banks next to Claybanks RV Park; 6 trees to be modified; 11 to be removed. (complete)
  • Soil/Debris Curbside Pickup: Soil and debris cleanup began on December 6, 2021 and ran until the end of June 2022. The city continued after this date to complete some pickups to ensure all remaining debris was collected.  (complete)
  • 3D printed houses (City does not have available land) (project stalled)

A Cautionary Tale

Flood damage can be hidden and very dangerous. There were many locations throughout the City of Merritt where the soil was washed away under the asphalt, hiding potential sink holes. In one incident, the Public Works department were preparing to remove flood debris from a fence along Voght Street.  When they deployed the backhoe’s outriggers, one of the footings broke through the asphalt into an unexpected void, nearly hitting a high compression gas line. The team was very lucky that the gas line was not damaged or broken. But the risk of an explosion and bodily harm was very real.  This is one of the many reasons the City of Merritt had to be evacuated, as the safety of our citizens is the highest priority.


Disaster Funding

Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) provides financial support to assist individuals, small businesses, and municipal governments in recovering from a disaster and restoring damaged property. This assistance is meant to compensate for sudden, unexpected, and uninsurable losses.  The Province has listed overland flooding in the Merritt area as a DFA “eligible event”, and many Merritt residents were eligible, applied and received their Disaster Funding allowance. While disaster funding provides adequate finances to build a basic safe, warm and dry building, it does not necessarily provide full replacement cost. Some residents are disappointed with the provided funding.

An Interview with Mayor Michael Goetz

“A Year Later”


Flood Mitigation

In Spring 2022, the City of Merritt’s Recovery Operations Team and consultants presented several potential flood mitigation options to Council. While some residents support dredging of the river, hydrologists deem that this is not a viable flood mitigation measure and can negatively impact the environment. A proposal of various diking measures are outlined in this updated Presentation to Council (PDF). The plan will require purchasing some properties that are in the path of the river. The plan also includes flood mitigation for the Nicola River. A final presentation with comprehensive report was submitted November 2022. It is important to note that the designs presented are preliminary and will be modified further after input from residents and first nations. This report is a necessary step in seeking the required estimated $165 million flood mitigation funding from other levels of government.


Application for Funding

January 2023, Ottawa announced it is making $1 billion in funding available to municipalities, First Nations and provinces and territories for projects to increase climate resiliency and protect against future natural disasters. The City of Merritt was ready in June 2022 with a $165-million recovery plan ready to apply for funding, but applications were closed until now.  Municipalities are eligible for up to 40 per cent of funding from DMAF for a project.

April 2022, the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs provided the City of Merritt with $24,255,000 in funding for recovery from the 2021 flood.  A portion of these funds went to the Transitional Evacuee Manufactured Home Program (TEMHP) to help Merritt’s citizens return to the community.

February 2023, the BC Ministry of Emergency Management & Climate Readiness approved $2,000,000 in funding for the City of Merritt’s Coldwater River Flood Mitigation – Public Works to Canford Avenue Dike project. This 100% funded project is a good first step as the City continues to seek funding for its flood mitigation goal of $165 million.

Transitional Housing

In summer 2022, about 130 households were still living in temporary shelter, with many outside the community. The City of Merritt worked on a plan to transition displaced residents off Red Cross emergency supports and enable residents to return to their community. With funding from the Province of BC, the City developed the Transitional Evacuee Manufactured Home Program (TEMHP) and were able to purchase 31 manufactured homes to provide temporary, subsidized housing for eligible flood-impacted homeowners and renters.  The new homes will be installed in Diamond Vale Mobile Home Park, at 2776 Clapperton Avenue, Merritt, BC, from January to March 2023. This transitional housing is intended to help flood impacted individuals for 4-24 months to transition to permanent rental or owned housing.  Accepted applicants will have the option to buy-out the contract at any time.

The program is being split into two phases.  Phase I is being provided first to flood affected residents who were contacted based on information provided by the City of Merritt Case Workers and the Canadian Red Cross.  Phase II is open to all residents affected by the flood-induced shortage of rental properties.

Phase I – Flood Affected Residents

Eligible residents will receive subsidized housing, rented at $1,300/month, which is about 70% of market value.  The rent will cover essential costs, such as pad rent, snow removal, water, sewer, garbage collection and grass cutting on the tenant’s property. While the City is technically the owner of these buildings, no rental proceeds go to City coffers. Renters must cover the cost of their own utilities. In addition to the subsidized rent, the City of Merritt is also offering program participants with the first half month’s rent for free. Additional supports are offered by community partners.  Applications are now closed for Phase I.

Phase II – Flood-Induced Shortage of Rentals

Eligible residents will receive subsidized housing, rented at $1,500 for a 2 bedroom unit, $1,550 for a 3 bedroom unit, and $1,600 for a 4 bedroom unit, which is approximately 85% of market rate.  The rent will cover essential costs, such as pad rent, snow removal, and grass cutting on the tenant’s property. Renters must cover the cost of their own utilities, water, sewer and garbage collection. While the homes will be owned by the City of Merritt, they will be managed and maintained by a property manager. Applications are currently being accepted for Phase II  by applying to Royal Lepage (proplepage@gmail.com).


Merritt Homes: Ask Wellness

The ASK Wellness Society provides a range of housing services for individuals residing in Merritt. They are currently working with the City of Merritt on administering supports to flood-impacted residents through the Transitional Evacuee Manufactured Home Program (TEMHP).

Elizabeth Fry Society Rent Bank

The Elizabeth Fry Rent Bank provides grants for people facing financial hardship due to emergencies.  This includes a natural disaster, medical emergency causing loss of income, job loss, and housing loss. The Elizabeth Fry Society Rent Bank is currently donating funds to those residents that meet the criteria for housing support. Donations will be given to those residents that qualified under the Transitional Evacuee Manufactured Home Program (TEMHP), which was established due to Merritt’s 2021 flood. (Funds provided to the Elizabeth Fry Society come from the United Way). Learn more at kamloopsefry.com

Crossroads Community Church

The Crossroads Community Church is also providing financial support to flood-impacted residents as part of the City of Merritt’s Transitional Evacuee Manufactured Home Program (TEMHP). Visit them at crossroadsmerritt.com.

Canadian Red Cross Support Centre

The Canadian Red Cross (CRC) Support Centre, located at 102-1700 Garcia Street, took over the emergency Merritt Support Centre. The CRC Support Centre provides residents with access to resources, from housing applications to mental health supports. If you are seeking Red Cross support, you can visit their team in-person at the Centre from Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. PST. If you prefer to meet over the phone, please connect with the Canadian Red Cross by calling 1-800-863-6582, or via email bcfloodrecovery@redcross.ca.

Samaritan’s Purse

Samaritan’s Purse continues to provide long term disaster recovery support to flood impacted residents, and helps keep a pulse on the needs of the community through various organizational connections and referrals.  Residents are welcome to visit a Samaritan’s Purse Recovery Specialist at their office.

LOCATION: 2101 Quilchena Avenue (the old barber shop at the Adelphi Hotel).
HOURS:  Mondays 1-4pm   |    Tuesdays & Thursdays 10am – 4pm
CONTACT:   Sherry Peterson:  250-574-4885   |   speterson@samaritan.ca
OR   Meghan Blackmore:  250-574-4574  |  mblackmore@samaritan.ca

The City of Merritt thanks the Province of BC, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Provincial Health Services Authority’s Health Emergency Management British Columbia (HEMBC) Program, the Canadian Red Cross, the United Way, the  Rotary Club of Merritt,  the Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, Ask Wellness Society, the Elizabeth Fry Society, Crossroads Community Church, Team Rubicon, Christian Aid Ministries, the First Nations Emergency Repair Program, and Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) for providing much-needed support and/or funding in response to the 2021 flood. The City also wishes to thank emergency response crews, including Merritt Public Works, Merritt Fire Rescue and the Merritt RCMP.  And finally the City acknowledges the many citizens that rose in a time of need to assist their neighbours through evacuation, debris clean-up, and  fundraising. Thank you!

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  • As of November 2022, the City of Merritt has 62 households with 112 people currently living in temporary or commercial accommodations. These families are being tracked by the Canadian Red Cross.


  • Recovery Supports : 333 households / 626 people receiving some kind of support (ie: Mental Health support, Financial supports, etc)
  • Temporary Housing (Commercial Accommodation): 27 households /56 people
  • Temporary Housing (Renting/Billeting) : 35 households / 56 people