Displaced Merritt, B.C. residents concerned with flood recovery efforts

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Close to 200 properties still remain on evacuation order in the city of Merritt – Feb 10, 2022

It’s been nearly three months since thousands of Merritt, B.C., residents were forced to leave their homes when the Coldwater River flooded the city.

Hundreds of residents have yet to return to their homes, and those displaced are frustrated with the recovery process.

Read more: Group of Washington state mayors urge action after November flooding disaster

They said not only has it been slow, it’s been confusing and stressful.

“We need support for the elderly, we need support for the handicap, and we need the support for those that have been taken out of their homes,” said Chris Kurik, a displaced resident.

While there is support being given by both the city of Merritt and Canadian Red Cross, many residents believed emergency funding for their temporary accommodation was ending on Feb. 15.

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Red Cross did announce this morning that the displaced residents will have their emergency funding extended until March 31.

Residents say they are grateful for the extension, however, they still have major concerns with the communication between Canadian Red Cross, the City of Merritt and themselves.

“Very poor, I’ve been phoning numbers and all i get is answering machine, answer machine, answering machine. I don’t think this is right,” said Kurik, describing the communication.

Read more: Canada ends U.S. travel exemption for B.C. residents in need of essential supplies after flood

One resident, whose mobile home was completely gutted, has been living in a hotel since November, which has been tough.

She is not sure if she will be able to return to her hotel suite after Feb. 15.

“The hotels were informed three days ago that the funding was stopping and they had been booking those rooms to essential workers who want to come here to do work,” said Teri McMillan.

“We are not sure at this point if we will have rooms at all.”

The City of Merritt’s mayor was unavailable for an interview but the municipality’s recovery manager spoke to Global News.

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“It’s incredible, I can’t imagine what the people have gone through and they remain our top priority,” said Greg Solecki, City of Merritt’s recovery manager.

“We’ve set up as many communication platforms as we can. We developed the community newsletter, we’ve gone onto Facebook and we set up a Twitter feed.”

The Canadian Red Cross was also unavailable for an interview but said in an email, “Support for accommodations is currently available until March 31st, and provides individuals and families impacted by the floods with the time they need to find longer term housing options that meet their needs.”

Close to 200 properties still remain on evacuation order.

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