Hundreds in Merritt, surrounding area still without power following Nov. 15 flooding

300-plus still without power

UPDATE: 4:10 p.m.

There are still 330 properties without power in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, with crews working Monday to restore infrastructure and respond to outages around Merritt and Coldwater Road, according to BC Hydro.

Sally MacDonald, a community relations representative for BC Hydro, spoke at a virtual TNRD public information meeting on Monday afternoon, advising most of the outages are affecting the Merritt area.

MacDonald said there are 137 properties still without power in the City of Merritt, 111 between Merritt and Brookmere, and 91 are without power along the Highway 8 corridor.

“The customers who are out in the Thompson-Nicola region, we don't yet have an estimated restoration time because it will depend on the rebuilding of our infrastructure in those areas,” she said.

“We're carefully watching the weather system, and we’ll be able to safely demobilize our crews should the weather demand it, so that we can continue to respond to outages and help as much as we can.”

She said BC Hydro is also supporting other agencies with restoration efforts along Highway 1, Highway 8, Coldwater Road and the Coquihalla Highway.

“That work includes gaining access and building stable ground that our infrastructure can be built on to,” MacDonald said.

She said crews would be attempting to gain access to the Dot Ranch area along Highway 8 — about halfway between Merritt and Spences Bridge — in order to assess repairs along that route.

Ian Wood, director of clinical operations for Thompson South Cariboo primary community care, said the emergency department at Nicola Valley Hospital in Merritt is open as of noon on Monday, closing at 6:30 p.m.

Wood said emergency will be running through the week from 7:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

“We will have COVID testing back again at the site, same location as it was previously deployed. This will be running Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Lots of space available,” Wood said.

He said COVID-19 vaccines will also be administered on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

“This will be available for the dose one and dose two drop-ins, and we also have boosters and ages five to 11 [for] appointment only,” Wood said.

ORIGINAL STORY: 10:11 a.m.

City officials in Merritt got good news on Monday morning, after temporary diking and stabilization efforts held a rising Coldwater River at bay overnight.

The Coldwater River, which spilled its banks earlier this month and caused widespread damage, rose quickly again on Sunday. The river peaked at 2.738 metres in height just before 10 p.m. — well short of its peak of 3.455 metres in height on Nov. 15.

City of Merritt emergency operations centre spokesman Alan Stebbing told Castanet a lot of work went into shoring up riverbanks and erecting temporary dikes.

“We’re happy to report that the reinforcement of the dikes and the riverbanks that our city crews and the military were able to do actually held the water and there was no significant flooding,” Stebbing said, noting crews are now assessing the situation in the city.

“Of course, we’re also focused on the next storm that is looking like it may hit B.C., and wanting to make sure that we’re prepared for that.”

The rising waters on Sunday prompted city officials in Merritt to pause a program that had been seeing residents in low-lying areas still under evacuation order allowed to return for daylight visits. Those visits will resume on Monday, the city said.

The Coldwater River had dropped substantially as of Monday morning, showing a height of 2.304 metres just before 9 a.m.

Stebbing said the success the city had on Sunday night was significant.

“It was huge and, as I said, there’s been a huge effort that’s gone into this with city crews, with contractors, with crews from other communities and, of course, the military,” he said.

“I think it’s pretty incredible that we’ve been able to keep what — prior to this flood — would have been a concerning amount of water in the Coldwater. With everything being destroyed, being able to keep the flood out, I think, was a herculean effort for everyone.”

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