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B.C. floods: Merritt announces final phases for evacuees to return home

A sign welcomes visitors to Merritt, B.C. The town of over 7,000 was evacuated on Nov. 15, after flood waters damaged the water treatment facility. Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

The City of Merritt has announced the final phases of its Return Home Plan.

On Thursday, the city said recent hard work reinforcing and rebuilding dikes to withstand rising river levels has been successful, and that no further flooding has occurred.

As a result, the city announced more details of the plan’s Phase 3 and 4.

Read more: Merritt, B.C. resumes third phase of re-entry plan after weekend flood warnings

The city was evacuated on Nov. 15 due to sudden flooding from the Coldwater River, with surging waters also damaging the community’s water treatment facility.

On Nov. 23, an evacuation order was lifted, which allowed residents in some areas (Phase 1) to return home. Four days later, the evacuation order for Phase 2 was lifted.

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Both phases remain on evacuation alert.

For Phase 3, the city said this segment is dependent on water sampling tests, which are expected within the next 48-72 hours.

“We will let residents know the status of the last water sample on Saturday, December 4, 2021,” said the city.

“If the last water sample comes back clean — free of hydrocarbons and contamination — residents in Phase 3 can expect to return home on Sunday, December 5, 2021.”

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For Phase 4, day access has been granted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The city said residents of Phase 4 must be aware of the hazards and potential dangers that come with accessing this phase.

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“Some roadways are not accessible due to infrastructure damage such as buckled sidewalks and roads and eroded road shoulders,” said the city.

“Other hazards include closed-off areas; contaminated soils; sinkholes; and extensive debris, mud, water.”

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The city also said first responders and emergency vehicles may not be able to easily access all areas within Phase 4, and that water may not be used for any reason, including the flushing of toilets.

It added that Phase 4 remains on evacuation order, and that day access may be suspended pending weather forecasting and river level activity.

For more about Merritt’s Return Home Plan, visit the city’s website.

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