Story from Inside City Hall
“The water was rising, but the gauges were not working. Provincial and water experts knew water coming our way, but no one could have guessed how much. The scale of this event was unprecedented and there was no way to project what the impact would be. The decision went out to warn residents by the riverbanks just in case. Council declared a State of Local Emergency, and the entire team began door knocking around midnight. In not time, the waters broke the river banks and started affecting a much larger portion of the community. By morning, the entire population of about 7,500 were evacuated. READ THE FULL STORY.
A Cautionary Tale from Public Works
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.
On November 15th. at 1:30 a.m., I was awakened by local Search and Rescue advising me to pack up and head to a safe place as the Coldwater had by-passed the dike up river and was beginning to flood the lower ground. I was given 15 minutes to take what I could and I didn’t stop to dress. I arrived at my daughter and son in laws with dog in tow and in my Nightwear. Budi [dog] and I spent two nights and then had to evacuate to Kamloops or Kelowna, I chose Kamloops as have a sister living there. I spent 7 weeks with her. Was given a three-week voucher for food and lodging from the ESS location at MacArthur Island. I signed up with Red Cross on the North shore to receive food and billing funds. The next day I had to shop for winter clothes and boots as didn’t have a thing to wear, also some regular clothing and accessories. READ FULL STORY
PHOTO UNRELATED TO STORY PROVIDED
Recovery Operations Consultant
We arrived on day 6 post-flood. I noticed that the EOCP were getting McDonalds while we were checking in the first day. At first it smelled so good. When I went back the next time about a week later, I noticed the EOCP were still eating McDonalds! Luckily I had packed some extra local carrots for my lunch and gave them to Kevin. It was like handing someone gold: he said that was his first vegetable in a week and didn’t share them with anyone! I just want to say that I’ve really enjoyed working with Kevin Vilac and his team. Some heros are Laurie Lyons, Groundwater Protection Officer of Ministry of Forests, Diana Tesic-Nagaliana of Interior Health. Of course there’s Kevin Vilac himself and it’s great that he got some recognition by his peers at this year’s EOCP (Environmental Operators Certificate Program) Awards Gala. There’s also a photo of my colleague Aaron Yarumchuk eating lunch in his truck on Saturday, Nov 20. We had turkey sandwiches.
November 15th was a very crazy day. Was woken up by my sister at 1:30am asking me to come and get her dog, the dyke was about to break, and they needed to evacuate. Threw my shoes on and started to head over there, problem, I was being evacuated as well. Called to let her know I’d meet her at the Civic Centre. Went back, got my animals and a ‘go’ bag. We met up at the evacuation centre and she let me know they were able to lift her dog into the truck, but the cats wouldn’t load, she had to leave them behind. A few lineups later and we were sent to Salmon Arm. […] Three weeks later … The front porch was gone so we used a step ladder to get inside. We had to shovel the mud out…” READ THE FULL STORY
My home on 1600 block Hill Street in Colletville was impacted. I really thought driving away from our house that morning during the evacuation that everything we had worked so hard for would be lost. Not knowing if we had a home to come back to for approximately 24 hours. Fortunately, to aid the recovery effort, I was escorted back to the community. visited my residence and was horrified by the damage to my yard/property. I was almost not wanting to enter my house. I was so grateful I placed sandbags in front of my garage door and back door before we were evacuated. Very little water entered my garage, no damage to anything in the garage or in the living area of my home. My 4-foot crawl space had approximately 3 feet of water, with approximately 90% of items stored down there were totally destroyed, including our furnace and hot water tank. My fences were knocked down, underground sprinklers ripped out of the ground, and left behind was a foot of silt, dirt, and garbage all around my property. I was also shocked to see neighbouring homes and properties that had been affected a lot worse than mine. While insurance and DFA covered a fair amount of repairs, it did not cover everything. After a lot of cleanup and hard work over the next year, my home and yard are back better than before.
A message from Crossroads Community Church
Special thanks to the Merritt RCMP and Merritt Fire Department for unloading our first large truck from the Federal Government. Marlene Jones the Director of Donations at the City of Merritt ran the forklift and arranged for the Fire and R.C.M.P. to help unload the first large shipment to arrive shortly after the flood. Our Distribution Center volunteers included the Merritt Walking group, and members of other churches and was directed by Sherry Peterson.
The Path to Resilience
(ARTWORK + PROSE: Janelle Gage)
The smoke had barely cleared when the clouds opened and the rains poured down. The creeks and riverbeds roared as they sought their path to the ocean. With every minute, flowing faster and higher, lives changed.
So many people stepped up to confront the power bearing down on our city. So many put aside their own losses and feelings to assist others in a time of need. So many still grapple with building back … better and stronger.
Now we stand along the river that is but a trickle, with salmon struggling up through the shallow gravel beds. The unknown future actions of mother nature causing anxiety that can only be calmed by the passing of uneventful seasons.
Your actions that night and your perseverance every day that followed continue to inspire each and everyone of us.
A message from Emergency Services Member and Resident
On the night of November 15, 2021 I was made aware that I may have to evacuate my home due to flood concerns. […] Suffice to say I was frustrated with that system, understanding that Kamloops had been expecting 400 evacuees and got sent in excess of 4000 […] I had pictures, and one quick look through my home, felt blessed and guilty because the actual structural damage was minimal, while my daughter [across the street] had lost her home completely, as had so many others. […] I was in the hotel until May 2022. READ THE FULL STORY
RESIDENTS: SHARE YOUR STORY
Make your mark in history. Together, we can make an impact that can lead us on the road to recovery. Post your story, photos, thank you cards, or artwork on our community bulletin boards and let us revel in the community spirit we shared as we rallied together to help our neighbours.
WHERE YOUR STORIES WILL BE PUBLISHED
Your stories will be assembled and posted on a display board in Merritt Civic Centre for the November 19th event. (The display will be assembled during the week of November 14th). After the event, your stories will be sent to the museum archives. After the event, your stories will be sent to the Nicola Valley Museum & Archives.
We would also like to post a selection of stories on the City’s website and make them available to media. It’s our stories that will help us garner the help we need to continue to recover. Please advise if you do not want your stories shared on the internet. Please also note that while we want to share every story on the website, we do not have the resources available to upload a complete online record. Stories will be randomly selected to be featured on the website. Additional stories will be added as time permits. We will begin to publish stories upon receipt.
- Your story of astonishment, triumph, recovery, and appreciation (with photos & captions).
- Funny anecdotes like, what was the strangest thing you brought with you on the evacuation.
- Laud the acts of kindness of neighbours and strangers.
- Your original artwork that depicts what the event meant to you. Children’s artwork encouraged.
- Thank you cards.
- Anything that honours the spirit of this event, noting your appreciation for our supportive community.
Note: If inappropriate content is submitted, you will be invited to resubmit.
MAXIMUM SIZE: 8.5 x 11 letter-sized paper. (Sample layouts shown at right). If your story is longer than one sheet of paper, the additional sheets will be stapled behind the front page. If you wish to provide artwork significantly larger than a letter-sized sheet, please contact us.
OPTION 1: Bring your printed story, photos, artwork, or thank you cards to Merritt Civic Centre for assembly on display boards.
OPTION 2: Email a PDF of your assembled story with photos and captions to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like your story also posted online, please send original high resolution images. Note, most computer programs allow you to “export”, “save as,” or “print to PDF.”
OPTION 3: If you are unable to assemble your story as requested, plain text and photos will be accepted.
FILE TRANSER OPTIONS: If your file size is large or you need to send a batch of photos or video, you may use a free file transfer service like DropBox, Google Drive, WeTransfer, or Hightail. (The City of Merritt does not endorse any one file transfer service). A link to YouTube or Vimeo will be accepted.