iN PHOTOS: Merritt flood 'worst it's ever been' resident says - InfoNews

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iN PHOTOS: Merritt flood 'worst it's ever been' resident says

A friendly dog named Dexter steps on to the sandbag barricade in front of his house on Mothers’ Day, May 13, 2018. Behind him the Pierce family is piling up sandbags to protect their home with the help of some friends.
May 14, 2018 - 4:27 PM

MERRITT - It was nearly 8 a.m. Mother’s day morning when the RCMP knocked on the Pierce family’s door and told them they were being evacuated, and they could either leave or choose to stay.

They, along with several other residents of Second Avenue in Merritt, chose to stay behind and protect their home.

Mischelle Pierce and her husband Bill Pierce flooded last year too, but she says this year it’s even worse. Her two sons, Ben Pierce and Jesse Pierce, along with several friends with trucks have stepped up to help.

“Like we’re old, and we tucker out and tire out but so many young guys have come and thrown bags," she says. "Yeah it’s been amazing.”

Parts of the City of Merritt have been watching water rise for the last week to what the city says is now record flooding. Merritt is now under a state of emergency and hundreds of homes in the Nicola River floodplain are under evacuation alert

While they get down to work, their dog Dexter keeps an eye on everything and get his paws dirty too. 

Mischelle Pierce stands with her dog Dexter on top of the sandbags they have been putting in front of their house to stop the flooding on Sunday, May 13, 2018. Pierce and her husband, Bill Pierce, are one of the households in Merritt, B.C. affected by flooding
Mischelle Pierce stands with her dog Dexter on top of the sandbags they have been putting in front of their house to stop the flooding on Sunday, May 13, 2018. Pierce and her husband, Bill Pierce, are one of the households in Merritt, B.C. affected by flooding

“He’s kinda enjoying this because he got to be the second-avenue greeter,” Mischelle says. “It’s been a weirdly interesting day, because the people they’re so nice.”

Volunteers also filled sandbags at the Merritt Civic Centre, distributed by people in pickup trucks to the people who did not leave their homes.

The Pierce family knew river levels were rising a week ago when a local state of emergency was ordered for Garcia Street on May 5. Concrete lockblocks were put up to help with the flooding, but now as moving waters erode the ground beneath them, the lockblocks have become a cause for concern. They have started to tilt and if they fall there is the potential for flood waters to rise significantly.

While helping the Pierces grab sandbags from a blue pickup truck, Bruce Mynott expresses concern over the potential for the lockblocks to fail.

"They're tipping into the river, and we're not allowed to go down there and sandbag it," he says.

Bruce Mynott passes sandbags from the pickup truck.
Bruce Mynott passes sandbags from the pickup truck.

City of Merritt spokesperson, Sean Smith, is aware that Second Avenue and Voght Street are of particular concern.

"It is not safe to go and make repairs to that lock block area now just because we are not sure of the ground stability and how eroded the ground may be," he says. 

It's just one of many issues the city is dealing with in a record flood.

"Today, [May 14] as of 7 this morning, we were measuring 72.8 cubic meters per second," he says. "There's never been anything that's been recorded over about 60 cubic meters per second. So we're definitely in unprecedented territory here."

Though some of the people at the Pierce residence expressed discontent over the city's response, Smith says they are implementing many things they learned from the flood last year, which was also a significant event with flood waters rising at a high point of 50 cubic meters per second.

The Pierces got the evacuation alert Friday, May 11. At that time, residents living in the Nicola River floodplain were not asked to leave but were being advised to be prepared for evacuation as they did not know how much water levels would rise.

“A bunch of us were up all night on Friday night,” Mischelle recalls as her son’s friend rows a boat in the yard. They had done their sandbagging and were just about to settle down. “Then my husband went out at midnight to look and... that’s when it got the worst was Friday night.”

The following morning, the entire city of Merritt was under a state of local emergency. 

Kirk Coldwell, a family friend who has been helping sandbag, rows a boat over the flooded yard.
Kirk Coldwell, a family friend who has been helping sandbag, rows a boat over the flooded yard.

Despite spending much of the weekend piling sandbags, and pumping water out of the crawl space, the Pierce family are in good spirits.

“I am unfortunately probably a little bit on the too optimistic side always,” Mischelle says. “I always believe, ‘It’s gonna be fine you guys! It’s gonna be good.’”

“What else would you do on Mother's day? Huh?” Bill laughs. “We’d have to be nice and take ‘em out and buy flowers and all that stuff… this is way more fun.”

Mischelle Pierce trudges through flood waters on Second Avenue. In a phone interview Sgt. Norman Flemming with the RCMP Merritt detachment notes that Second Avenue is surrounded by the Nicola River at both ends of the road. “I was over there on Saturday morning and it was over the sandbags,” he says. “The water was clearly across the street running over there [...] and the water only rose from there.”
Mischelle Pierce trudges through flood waters on Second Avenue. In a phone interview Sgt. Norman Flemming with the RCMP Merritt detachment notes that Second Avenue is surrounded by the Nicola River at both ends of the road. “I was over there on Saturday morning and it was over the sandbags,” he says. “The water was clearly across the street running over there [...] and the water only rose from there.”

Bill Pierce grabs a sandbag. Behind him the neighbours house stands submerged in water.
Bill Pierce grabs a sandbag. Behind him the neighbours house stands submerged in water.

Mischelle stands in the neighbour’s yard as family friend Bruce Mynott starts the truck full of sandbags in the back to take to the Pierce house across the street.
Mischelle stands in the neighbour’s yard as family friend Bruce Mynott starts the truck full of sandbags in the back to take to the Pierce house across the street.

Mynott drives the blue pickup truck full of sandbags. Volunteers have been filling them at the Merritt Civic Centre.
Mynott drives the blue pickup truck full of sandbags. Volunteers have been filling them at the Merritt Civic Centre.

By now Mischelle has learned the easiest way to navigate the murky waters on foot.
By now Mischelle has learned the easiest way to navigate the murky waters on foot.

“What else would you do on Mother's day? Huh?” Bill exclaims. “We’d have to be nice and take ‘em out and buy flowers and all that stuff… this is way more fun.”
“What else would you do on Mother's day? Huh?” Bill exclaims. “We’d have to be nice and take ‘em out and buy flowers and all that stuff… this is way more fun.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shelby Thevenot or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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