Merritt flood evacuees begin arriving in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Merritt flood evacuees begin arriving in Kamloops

The entire town of Merritt is under evacuation alert as floodwaters continue to rise.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Kelly Brook Allen

Evacuees from flood waters in Merritt are arriving in Kamloops Monday morning for emergency support services.

Resident Dixie Bready left before emergency responders came to her door after a neighbour warned her of the encroaching flood around 5 a.m., today, Nov. 15.

She first saw the water reaching her home, then looked to her basement where it was creeping up the stairs already. The flood water was nearly up to her knees when they left the house, and she only had time to leave with the most essential items, like a phone, wallet and her dog.

"I almost couldn't open the door (to my vehicle)," Bready said.

Their SUV struggled, but they managed to escape before the rising waters stalled the vehicle.

Bready spent three-and-a-half hours at the Merritt emergency support services reception centre. Amid the crowd of evacuees, Bready said a bottle of pepper spray was accidentally discharged at the reception centre, adding to the already stressful situation.

After waiting, then leaving the building to escape the noxious fumes, ESS staff instructed evacuees to head to Kamloops because they were already at capacity.

Some evacuees are headed to Kelowna and an evacuation centre is being set up in Penticton as well. The floodwaters have also isolated the region, with no way to get to the coast except by air. There are closures on Highways 5 (Coquihalla), 3 (Crowsnest Pass) and 1 (Trans-Canada). 

Collettville resident Jaimie Grismer was woken up at 4 a.m. to emergency responders telling her to be on alert for a potential evacuation.

She is waiting for emergency support services to call her with accommodations and food vouchers after they checked in around 11 a.m.

They were ordered to leave by 6 a.m. not because their home was threatened, but because nearly all roads in and out of their neighbourhood were blocked by the flood waters.

She said her property is high enough from the river that she wasn't concerned about the waters compromising the house, yet it was across the street by the time she left.

Looking back as they fled the city, many streets were already covered with the flood waters.

"(The water) is going to do what it wants, and I just hope for the best," she said.

Residents are encouraged to find accommodations with friends and family outside of Merritt until the floodwater reside.

Emergency support services are available at 1655 Island Parkway at McArthur Island Park in Kamloops, or 1480 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna.

Heavy rainfall and mudslides have closed access to the Lower Mainland through Highway 5.

Flooding in Merritt forced the closure of the city's wastewater facility before all residents were evacuated, and there is no timeline for it to reopen.

An evacuation alert was first issued for Collettville residents on Sunday night, Nov. 14.

That was soon upgraded to an evacuation order for that neighbourhood, and later, an evacuation order for the entire community around 10 a.m., Nov. 15.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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