The latest on flooding, recovery in B.C. on Nov. 26 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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The latest on flooding, recovery in B.C. on Nov. 26

Road workers are replacing damaged infrastructure on the Coquihalla Highway with temporary measures.
Image Credit: Flickr/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

The three highways connecting the Interior of B.C. with the Lower Mainland will be closed on Saturday.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says a "proactive" closure of Highways 3 and 99 will begin in the afternoon, Nov. 27, according to a news release.

Those closures will be between Hope and Princeton on Highway 3, and Pemberton and Lillooet on Highway 99, shuttering the two routes that were the quickest to reopen after flooding and mudslides shook the province earlier this month.

Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon will be closed "as a precaution," but the exact time and duration of the closure depends on weather conditions, according to the release.

Two more storms are expected to hit the province, with one on Saturday, while the third, and most substantial, is anticipated to land on Tuesday.

READ MORE: B.C. should prepare for more storms as repairs from severe rain underway: minister

"There is an increased risk of landslides that accompanies this weather prediction and power outages are possible from the winds that we're expecting as well," transportation and infrastructure minister Rob Fleming said on Nov. 26.

On Sunday morning, the closures will be re-evaluated.

Highway 3 south of Princeton has already been closed for much of Friday after collisions blocked passage on the roadway.

Since B.C. began to recover from the mid-November floods, Highway 3 has been critical in reconnecting the Lower Mainland with the rest of the province.

"It has played a vital role in the movement of goods and getting our supply chain back up and running," Fleming said. "About 4,000 commercial trucks now have traversed that corridor, moving the goods and supplies that we need in communities across our province."

In the Interior, more Merritt residents are expected to return home tomorrow, Nov. 27.

The returning home plan was initially split into three phases, with the city moving into the second phase on Saturday.

Those who return will remain on evacuation alert and under a boil water advisory as the City of Merritt continues to repair its infrastructure.

READ MORE: Relative of missing Kamloops woman grateful for outpouring of community support

The third phase, however, is now split into two. Phase three residents, largely in the most flooded areas of Merritt, be allowed to return to the evacuation area for day-access only, according to a news release.

Those residents can take away personal items and assess their homes, but it has been deemed unsafe for them to return home on a full-time basis.

In the newly created fourth phase, most of which includes the Colletteville area, remains under evacuation order.

The release says the area has experienced "significant damage" to several properties and roads, but there are also other hazards like sinkholes, debris and active worksites.

The City of Merritt expects to have further updates on phase four on Nov. 29.

Ongoing updates from the City can be found on its website here.

As rains and storms continue, mountainsides and roadways are potentially unsafe for different types of travel, including recreational.

Across southwest B.C., Avalanche Canada is asking people to respect non-essential travel restrictions.

READ MORE: Tuesday will be earliest we may learn if Interior COVID restrictions will be eased

Backcountry and forest roads are already restricted from access in parts of southwest B.C., but Avalanche Canada is reminding recreationalists that "now is not the right time for recreational travel."

On Thursday, Nov. 25, Fleming said work has continued to bring Highway 1 and the Coquihalla Highway back to temporary use for commercial traffic. While the Trans Canada was deemed safe for travel with temporary repairs, the continued weather events battering the province are putting that in jeopardy.

Check DriveBC for the most up to date travel information.

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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