RETURN HOME PLAN

INFORMATION
PHASE ONE
PHASE TWO
PHASE THREE
PHASE FOUR

Return Home Plan

The City of Merritt has achieved a number of operational objectives that have allowed us to begin our process of welcoming residents back home to Merritt. There will be three phases to this plan.

Click the plus (+) buttons below for more information.

Boil Water Advisory

A boil water advisory means that there are still some organisms in the water that can make you sick if consumed. To effectively kill the organisms and make the water safe for consumption, water must be brought to a rolling boil on a stovetop for at least 60 seconds. Once the water has cooled again it can be used for drinking, brushing your teeth, and washing and preparing food.
Please conserve water as much as possible. The water supply may be discolored due to disturbed deposits in pipes; however, it is not harmful as the water has been disinfected. In addition, air may be present in the pipes; therefore, it is advisable to run cold water through the faucet for several minutes to eliminate both the air and discolored water problems.

Rapid Damage Assessment

Rapid Damage Assessments have been completed and the City of Merritt has established a system to communicate property evaluations with homeowners.

This map outlines the Flood Inundation Zone. If you have a property in this vicinity and have not yet contacted the City of Merritt to receive an update on your Rapid Damage Assessment, please email returnhome@merritt.ca and provide your Name, current telephone number, and Street Address (not PO box), or call our Return Home Line 1-877-655-0341.

If you are a homeowner and have already contacted the City of Merritt to receive an update on your Rapid Damage assessment, you can expect a call back from City Building Official.

Please note that the city is actively contacting property owners with properties that were given red placards.

Disaster Financial Assistance

Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) provides financial support to assist individuals, small businesses, and municipal governments in recovering from a disaster and restoring damaged property to its pre-disaster condition. 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 Merritt residents may be eligible to apply for this assistance.

Residents have 90 days to apply for financial assistance, and the deadline for this event is February 12, 2022.

For information about the DFA Program and specifics related to eligible applicants, eligible losses, and the application process CLICK HERE.

FAQs

Where do I buy groceries?

No Frills grocery store (2760 Forksdale Avenue) will be open Tuesday, November 23. The City is working with other retail stores that are formalizing their reopening plans. Check back here for more information in the coming days.

Where can I fill get gas for my vehicle?

The following gas stations are currently available:

  • Chevron 24 hours
  • Super Save 7am – 7 pm
  • Canco
  • Petro Canada

Is there any important traffic routing information?

During Phase 1, barricades will remain in place at the following locations:

  • Voght Street at Grimmett Street
  • Nicola Avenue at Juniper Drive
  • Nicola Avenue at Coldwater Road

During this time, access from Lower Nicola and First Nations communities to the west to the retail stores in northeast Merritt will be accessible via Juniper Drive. A reduced speed zone of 30 km/h has been implemented on Juniper Drive and Parker Drive. At Phase 2, barricades will be removed. However, access to the areas south of Nicola Avenue will be restricted.

Is the transit system working?

The City is working with BC Transit on a plan to reimplement transit service for routes 1 and 4. Transit service for routes 2 and 3 will not be available for an extended time period.

Will my property be safe from theft?  

Since the flood evacuation, RCMP have been conducting regular patrols throughout the community, and have more than doubled their contingent of staff. When the barricades are eventually removed, RCMP patrols will be increased in the flood inundation zone and security checkpoints will be implemented.

Is there fire coverage?

The City is working to ensure the water system is re-established. If fire flows are not sufficient, tanker trucks will be brought in to supplement the water system.

Is there medical services?

The emergency room is closed until further notice. Local doctors are providing services via phone consultation.

Is there garbage collection?

Residential garbage collection will not be available until the week of November 29 – December 3.

Commercial garbage collection will begin immediately.

Will there be snow removal?

A minimum level of snow removal service will be provided. Priority routes will be maintained.

What should I know about BC Hydro safety, outages, and supports?

Once your power is back on, we recommend following these tips after an extended power outage:

  • Avoid immediately turning on your heating system and numerous electronics and appliances as soon as the power is back. This gives our electrical system a chance to stabilize.
  • Check food supplies in your refrigerator and freezer.
    • Check the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for information on handling refrigerated and frozen food after an outage.
    • A full fridge can keep food cold for about 4 hours.
    • A full freezer can keep food frozen for up to 48 hours; a half-full freezer will keep food frozen for about 24 hours.

BC Hydro Help for Evacuees

Residential and commercial customers who are affected by an evacuation order are eligible to receive a credit for the electricity consumed for the duration of the time they’re out of their home, if the order is for five days or longer.

BC Hydro also offers flexible bill payment plans for when you’re able to return home.

BC Hydro proactively monitor evacuation orders year-round to identify those lasting at least five days. They will then automatically apply a credit to your account for the electricity consumed during the period you’re out of your home or business due to evacuation order.

This credit applies to residential, small business (Small General Service rate), and irrigation customers. You don’t need to call to tell us about your evacuation. The credit will be automatically applied to your next bill.

If you have questions, please contact BC Hydro at 1-800-224-9376.

BC Hydro Support for Destroyed Homes

For residential customers whose property was unfortunately destroyed as a result of the natural disaster, BC Hydro will automatically waive all electricity charges since the previous billing period, including for electricity used prior to the evacuation order. Waiving these charges means you won’t receive a final bill for the account.

BC Hydro proactively monitors evacuation areas where properties were lost so there’s no need to call BC Hydro to report.

BC Hydro will also waive the electricity service connection charge for any residential customer that rebuilds their home, if it’s not paid for by insurance.

More information on BC Hydro safety and outages: https://www.bchydro.com/safety-outages.html

What should I know about Fortis Gas safety, outages, and supports?

FortisBC is working to inspect electrical and natural gas utilities. For more information on safety and outages, please visit the following websites: https://www.fortisbc.com/safety-outages

What do I need to do to repair electrical or gas utilities?

For works to electrical or natural gas utilities, you will require permits and inspections from Technical Safety BC. For information on electrical and natural gas utility inspections, please visit the Technical Safety BC website: https://www.technicalsafetybc.ca/ or call 1-866-566-7233.

Resource Links:

Donations and Other Assistance

The City is working with the Nicola Valley Food Bank, United Way, Red Cross, and other organizations on how to best help Merrittonians most in need.

Business Inquiries

Business owners who have questions about the City’s Return Home Plan can speak with the City’s Business Recovery Advisor by emailing ecdev@merritt.ca

Debris, Food Waste, and Soil Removal

The City is working with the TNRD to develop a plan for debris, food waste, and soil removal from properties. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Rental Properties

The City’s short supply of rental housing may be further impacted due to impacts of the flooding. The City urges landlords to not increase rents above pre-flood rental prices. Maintaining stable rental rates will help make #MerrittStrong by keeping Merrittonians in the community.

For more information on landlord and tenant rights, please visit the Residential Tenancy Branch website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies

Disaster Financial Assistance

What is DFA?

Disaster Financial Assistance is a provincial program, administered by Emergency Management BC, to help individuals and local governments recover from uninsurable flooding disasters.

The purpose of DFA is to provide a helping hand to get people and local governments back on their feet after an uninsurable flooding disaster.

The DFA program operates under the Emergency Program Act and the ensuing Compensation and Disaster Financial Assistance Regulation and is obliged to provide compensation in compliance with this legislation.

DFA eligibility criteria, as defined in the Act and the Regulation, have been applied consistently and fairly throughout the province since 1995.

When is DFA available?

DFA is available in the event of a disaster in respect of which the minister, or designate, has determined that disaster financial assistance may be provided.

When this determination is made, EMBC defines the eligible dates and geographic locations, notifies affected local governments, posts this information on its website, publishes information in local papers, and if requested attends community meetings.

Who is eligible for DFA?

Homeowner: Assistance must be for the residence that is occupied by the individual as their home, where the majority of their personal effects are located, and the residence for which they received the provincial Home Owner Grant or were entitled to receive this grant.

Residential Tenant: Must be the residence that is occupied by the individual as their home and where the majority of their personal effects are located.

Small Business Owner: Must be the owner of a business that is managed by the applicant on a day to day basis, is the owner’s major source of income, has gross sales of less than $1 million per year, and employs less than 50 people at any one time.

Farm Owner: Must be the owner of a farm operation that is identified by the BC Assessment Authority as an agricultural operation, is owned and operated by a person whose full time employment is as a farmer, and is the means by which the owner derives the majority of their income.

Charitable Organization: Must be a not for profit charitable organization that provides a benefit or service to the community at large, has been in existence for at least 12 months, and is registered under the Society Act.

Local Governments: This includes regional governments, municipalities, water sewer districts and diking districts. First Nations are also supported under an agreement between Indigenous Services Canada and Emergency Management BC.

What is eligible for DFA?

DFA can compensate for 80% of eligible claims, after the first $1,000 to a maximum claim of $300,000.  There is no maximum for a local government claim.

DFA is only for uninsurable losses and for losses where there is no other program offered by local, provincial, federal or international governments or agencies.

DFA is available for essential items only. It provides or reinstates the necessities of life, including help to repair and restore damaged homes (land damage is not eligible) and to re-establish or maintain the viability of small businesses and working farms. For local governments it is available to help restore essential infrastructure.

How can people apply for DFA?

Application forms are available on our website: http://www.gov.bc.ca/disasterfinancialassistance

Additional information about the DFA Program and specifics re eligible applicants, eligible losses and application process are available at the Disaster Financial Assistance website:

www.gov.bc.ca/disasterfinancialassistance

Boil Water Advisory

A boil water advisory means that there are still some organisms in the water that can make you sick if consumed. To effectively kill the organisms and make the water safe for consumption, water must be brought to a rolling boil on a stovetop for at least 60 seconds. Once the water has cooled again it can be used for drinking, brushing your teeth, and washing and preparing food.

Please conserve water as much as possible. The water supply may be discolored due to disturbed deposits in pipes; however, it is not harmful as the water has been disinfected. In addition, air may be present in the pipes; therefore, it is advisable to run cold water through the faucet for several minutes to eliminate both the air and discolored water problems.

Rapid Damage Assessments

Post-Disaster Building Assessments (PDBA) are allowing the city to more rapidly assess the safety of buildings. Placards are placed by assessment teams to indicate the outcome of the building assessment and to provide information about the extent and nature of the damage to owners and occupants. There are three types of placards:

Green: to indicate no restrictions for entry or use upon the rescinding of the Evacuation Order for the relevant area.

Yellow: to indicate that entry or use is restricted. The building may require further action and/or a detailed assessment or return to-function assessment. Restrictions may include:

  • Use of only designated portions
  • Inability to use non-structural components
  • Use of the whole or a portion of the building once countermeasures or repairs indicated on the placard have been completed and inspected and approved

Red: to indicate that the building should not be used or entered. Buildings may be declared unsafe because of the nature and extent of the structural damage or geotechnical hazards.

Rapid damage assessments are completed and the City is in the process of contacting those property owners with properties deemed unsafe (red). Concurrently, the City is developing a plan to communicate rapid damage assessment information to residents and to enable daytime only access to most portions of the phase 3 area. This will allow residents to collect belongings, assess damage, and begin cleaning and damage mitigation activities, prior to lifting the evacuation order for this area.

FortisBC Notice of Work

Work Notification
Topic: Merritt System repairs
Date: November 26, 2021

With water now receding, FortisBC has assessed a section of its natural gas system near its Merritt Gate Station at Quilchena Avenue and Main Street. They plan to complete necessary repairs over the weekend of November 27-28.

Safely maintaining natural gas service to customers in Merritt is FortisBC’s top priority. As the city wide evacuation begins to lift, FortisBC is asking the public to use caution around the construction site and equipment during or after work hours. This will allow FortisBC to complete the repairs as quickly as possible. Additional FortisBC vehicles may be noticeable in the area associated with construction activities as crews mobilize to and from the site.

FortisBC also has compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks ready at its Merritt Gate Station to provide backup supply, if needed, while repairs are underway. Residents in the area may experience increased noise as part of this work. They may also notice the smell of rotten eggs as repaired portions are tied back into the main system.

These activities will ensure the community has safe and reliable service as they return home and we appreciate their patience.

Contact

Return Home Information Line

Hours of Operation:
Daily from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Phone: 1-877-655-0341
Email: returnhome@merritt.ca

Phase One

Phase 1: North of the RCMP Station

We anticipate that the evacuation order for this phase will be lifted on Tuesday, November 23rd at 12:00 PM (noon).

Critical information for residents returning as part of phase 1:

  • The phase 1 area will be on “Evacuation Alert” status
  • The phase 1 area is on “Boil Water Notice”, meaning that all water must be boiled before it is consumed.
  • The City asks that residents be extremely conscious of water use, as the Kengard well is the only well currently feeding this system and minimizing water use is necessary to preserve fire flow.
  • Prior to return, residents should acquire sufficient food and supplies to be self-sufficient for 72 hours. Grocery stores in the phase 1 area are working to come online for November 23, 2021, though reduced hours may be in place and there is no guarantee on what products will be available.
  • Garbage and recycling service will commence the week of November 29th, 2021 (commercial service will begin immediately)
  • The City will be providing reduced levels of snow clearing service.
  • The City has reduced flows for fire protection, which is being partially offset by water tanker and water truck vehicles on standby.
  • Hydro, gas and internet utilities are all operational in the phase 1 area.
  • The City is coordinating with the School District, which is developing a plan for remote learning for students in our community, alongside a plan for returning to physical locations.
  • At the outset, the Nicola Valley Hospital and Health Centre will not be open. 9-1-1 services will be available with service to Kamloops. Interior Health is actively working on bringing additional health services online.

During this phase, roadblocks will remain on Voght Street at Grimmett Street, on Nicola Avenue at Juniper Drive, and on Nicola Avenue at Coldwater Road.

Access from Highway 8 to retail stores in the Northeast of Merritt will be via Juniper Drive. A reduced speed zone of 30 km/h will be implemented on Juniper Drive and Parker Drive (Figure 1 – Detour Route).

Phase Two

Phase 2: Between the RCMP Station and Nicola Avenue

We are happy to advise that we are ready to welcome home residents in Phase 2 on Saturday, November 27 at 12:00 PM (noon), pending final water testing results that will be received on Friday, November 26, 2021. The evacuation order for this area will be downgraded to an evacuation alert.

We will be providing information on day access for Phase 3 tomorrow Friday, November 26. It’s important to note that the city residents are returning to is not the same city they left.

Following are a few of the changes residents need to be aware of when returning:

  • You will be on an evacuation alert and need to be prepared to leave on short notice.
  • A boil water notice is in effect meaning that all water must be boiled before it is consumed.
  • Limit water usage. The City is in the process of bringing additional wells online, and we will communicate with residents as soon as water can be more freely used.
  • Prior to return, residents should acquire sufficient food and supplies to be self-sufficient as supplies within Merritt are currently limited.
  • Garbage and recycling service will commence the week of November 29th, 2021 (commercial service will begin immediately).
  • Reduced levels of snow clearing service.
  • Reduced flows for fire protection, which is being partially offset by water tanker and water truck vehicles on standby.
  • Hydro, gas, and internet utilities are all operational in the Phase 2 area.
  • School District 58 is communicating directly with parents and students on school updates.
  • Interior Health is planning to have the Emergency Room in the Nicola Valley Hospital and Health Centre re-opened on November 29, 2021 at 12:00 PM (noon).
  • 9-1-1 service and BC Ambulance service is still available in the community with transport likely to Kamloops for any required hospital visit. Local physicians continue to offer telephone health care services.

PHASE THREE

Phase 3: South of Nicola Avenue

The final phases of our re-entry plan present the greatest challenge, as all properties are still without consumable water and sewer, and there are varying degrees of flood damage and hazards. As a result of these differences, we have divided Phase 3 into Phase 3 and Phase 4.

Phase 3: Day Access Only
Phase 4: No Access Until Further Notice

Both Phase 3 and Phase 4 will remain under Evacuation Order until further notice. ESS supports will continue to remain available for residents under Evacuation Order at this time. Please view the below map on the City of Merritt website (www.merritt.ca/reentryphasemap) to determine which Phase your property is in. A list of each property in each Phase is also available on our website.

Residents in Phase 3 will be allowed to have day access only, effective Saturday, November 27 at 12:00 PM (noon) to 3:00 PM. Moving forward, day access will be from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM.  No passes will be required for day access in the Phase 3 area.

Those in Phase 3 returning for the day must be aware of the following considerations:

  • Remains on Evacuation Order and day access is only available between 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
  • Residents cannot use the water for any purpose. This is different from other phases where citizens can boil water for use. If water services come online, it has a “Do Not Consume” status.
  • Residents cannot use the toilet or other wastewater devices until further notice.
  • FortisBC has not been able to restore natural gas to all homes. FortisBC crews have left tags with further instructions at these properties and ask that people returning home follow the tag instructions to have service restored. It’s important that residents and businesses do not try to put damaged or potentially compromised natural gas meters or appliances back in service yourself. If your appliances are not working, are damaged or potentially compromised, or you’ve received a tag from FortisBC, have your appliances inspected by a licensed gas contractor before they are relit. Please contact FortisBC if you require more information. Restoration of service will follow necessary repairs to the property and only after a licensed contractor confirms it’s safe.
  • If you have lost power, call BCHydro at 1-800-224-9376.
  • There are still major disaster response activities occurring within the Phase 3 area, which includes water and sanitary line flushing, hydro and gas utility work, dike maintenance, and other infrastructure repairs. Residents should stay clear of any active worksites.
  • The RCMP will have a strong presence in all Phase 3 areas to minimize looting or other concerns and will be stopping to talk with anyone found outside in the Phase 3 area after 3:00 PM.
  • Limited formal supports are available in Merritt, so please arrange to stay with friends and family in Phase 1 and 2 areas or make arrangements in other communities.
  • All businesses within the Phase 3 area may open between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM. It is up to each business to ensure they meet all applicable health and safety standards prior to their opening.
  • The City of Merritt will be supporting businesses and patrons by providing a system of porta potties in the business district of phase 3. Further information will be made public soon.
  • A Resiliency Centre will be operational effective Saturday, November 27 at 12:00 PM at (noon). Moving forward, it will be open from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM at the Merritt Civic Centre (1950 Mamette Ave).
  • The City will be setting up flagging stations at entries to the Phase 4 area. Please stay out of these areas for everyone’s safety.

PHASE FOUR

The final phases of our re-entry plan present the greatest challenge, as all properties are still without consumable water and sewer, and there are varying degrees of flood damage and hazards. As a result of these differences, we have divided Phase 3 into Phase 3 and Phase 4.

Phase 3: Day Access Only
Phase 4: No Access Until Further Notice

Both Phase 3 and Phase 4 will remain under Evacuation Order until further notice. ESS supports will continue to remain available for residents under Evacuation Order at this time. Please view the below map on the City of Merritt website (www.merritt.ca/reentryphasemap) to determine which Phase your property is in. A list of each property in each Phase is also available on our website.

Phase 4 residents will not be allowed day access at this time. This area has experienced significant damage to several properties and roads. Other hazards include sinkholes, active worksites, and extensive debris. Emergency Services are not accessible in this area. We are working to provide day access to this area and will provide an update on Monday, November 29, 2021.