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‘No highways to get me home’: More than 100 truckers trapped in Merritt, B.C. due to floods

Click to play video: 'Truckers trapped in Merritt due to highway closure' Truckers trapped in Merritt due to highway closure
Roughly 100-plus transport truck drivers are stranded in a parking lot of a Merritt Esso, following a number of highway closures – Nov 16, 2021

It’s been a rough couple of days for more than 100 transport truck drivers stranded in a gas station parking lot in Merritt, B.C., following unprecedented highway closures due to flooding.

And it’s starting to get rougher as sanitation needs continue to go unmet and food supplies dwindle.

“I was about to go pick up a load on the coast and that didn’t happen because the flooding on the Coquihalla, and I am stuck here because there are no highways to get me home,” David Rusch from Salmon Arm, said.

“I’ve been driving truck(s) for 30 years and I never experienced anything like this.”

Read more: ‘Catastrophic’ flooding expected as City of Abbotsford doubles down on evacuation order

Between the Esso station and a nearby Walmart, Rusch estimated there could be several hundred truckers in the same position. He suggested about 50 per cent are from Saskatchewan and Ontario.

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A day earlier, residents of Merritt were ordered to evacuate the city due to massive flooding that blocked access to three bridges and shut down the wastewater treatment plant. Everything is shut down, “even the Walmart,” Rusch said.

Part of the issue, he said, is that the truckers can’t drop their trailers and head out without more information. Plus, their cargo — everything from COVID-19 vaccinations to groceries — needs to get to its destinations.

Click to play video: 'B.C. floods: Evacuation order issued for Merritt as city floods and wastewater plant fails' B.C. floods: Evacuation order issued for Merritt as city floods and wastewater plant fails
B.C. floods: Evacuation order issued for Merritt as city floods and wastewater plant fails – Nov 16, 2021

Read more: One woman dead, others missing, after mudslide sweeps cars off highway north of Pemberton, B.C.

Will Blokpoel is another trucker waiting for some clarity.

He said he figures he has half a day left of waiting in him and if things don’t change, he’s going to start heading back to Calgary.

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“It’s up to our companies to say we can go,” he said.

“They are hoping something will open up, like (Highway 3), but I don’t see any changes in the foreseeable future.”

Read more: Reopening of Coquihalla Highway could take ‘weeks or months’ due to flood damage

Blokpoel had the foresight to get groceries before everything closed because of the evacuation order, but not everyone did. And sanitation is increasingly problematic.

“We tried to contact Merritt and they’re not getting back to us,” he said.

Speaking to 980 CKNW‘s Simi Sara, city councillor Tony Luck said the “shock’s just settling in” as he, his wife and his mother hole up in a hotel in Kamloops.

“We need a lot of prayer right now and a lot of hope. I’m a little emotional as I think about it, because we got 7,000 people out, we got a water treatment plant that’s down, and we’re not sure when we’re going to be able to get back to our community,” Luck said.

Click to play video: 'Intense storm blows through Kelowna' Intense storm blows through Kelowna
Intense storm blows through Kelowna – Nov 15, 2021

— With a file from Janet Brown, CKNW

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