More Merritt, B.C., residents return home as flood evacuation orders once again lifted
More residents of Merritt, B.C. were given the green light to return home after the city once again lifted flood evacuation orders.
Residents of properties in Phases 3 and 4 of the city’s return home plan had previously been under an evacuation order and only allowed day access.
On Friday, however, that order was lifted, leading to flocks of residents returning home.
"(There’s) a lot going on today, lots of people are back cleaning up, there's stuff piled on the road, were hauling mud away," said Merritt resident Howard McKinnon in an interview with CTV News Vancouver on Saturday.
“Everywhere you look, there’s people trying to get their lives back together.”
McKinnon has spent the last few weeks taking his excavator around town, offering a hand to anyone who needs it. He says the recent snowfall and freezing temperatures have added to the chaos.
“We need boots on the ground,” he said.
While the vast majority of residents are now free to return home on a full-time basis, the city has deemed 366 properties to be “unliveable.”
“We’ve instituted a new evacuation area that is specifically houses that are either damaged or have issues with their utilities, like gas, hydro or water,” Merritt information officer Alan Stebbing told CTV News.
Stebbing says as more people return home, the number of unliveable houses could rise.
"We expect this number to start to vary,” Stebbing said. “As people are getting back into their homes, we are finding some that are unliveable that weren't included, so we're including them to make sure those people get services.”
After previously being under a “do not consume” order, the city’s water supply is now back to a boil water advisory, according to Interior Health.
"(There were) a couple of major milestones yesterday to bringing the residents back to Merritt and working back towards a sense of normalcy,” Stebbing said.
However, McKinnon says there’s been a lack of help from all levels of government, and residents have taken on a “do it ourselves” mentality.
"Really, at this point, nobody's counting on any help from anybody officially, so we're just going to keep carrying on doing what we're doing.”
A spokesperson for the B.C. government told CTV News on Saturday that Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth will travel to Merritt early next week.
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