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Cleanup, infrastructure fixes in Merritt 'the largest project' in city's history

Each property will be graded in either green, yellow and red, depending on the severity of the damage.
The Coldwater River spilled its banks in Merritt on Sunday and flooded low-lying parts of the city. Work to clean up and repair the damage is now underway.

Municipal officials in Merritt say a team of inspectors will soon begin assessments of each property directly affected by this week’s flooding, which will get residents one step closer to returning home.

The City of Merritt is bringing in a team of rapid damage assessment inspectors who will grade each property on a familiar scale — green, yellow and red.

“If you’re in the green, that’s good news,” Greg Lowis, the city’s corporate services director and the head of its emergency operations centre, told Castanet.

“Unfortunately and tragically, for people whose homes are in the yellow or red, that means there’s a lot more work to be done.”

Lowis said the city is also beginning to “compartmentalize” the community as it looks toward a partial lifting of the city-wide evacuation order that’s been in place since Monday. He said workers will determine the condition of infrastructure in different parts of town — the water system chief among them — and determine who can return first based on that.

“We’re basically starting to compartmentalize the city,” he said.

“There are large parts of Merritt that were never at risk from floodwaters, but they were evacuated because of the damage done to the wastewater treatment system.”

Lowis said that will mean turning on the water in small sections of the city to check the condition of infrastructure.

“We’re hopeful we will be able to depressurize some of the water system soon,” he said.

Dikes are also being repaired near the city’s wastewater treatment plant, and other critical infrastructure is still undergoing assessment.

Lowis said the scale of the job is unprecedented for the community.

“It’s very big,” he said.

“This is, without a doubt, the largest project the City of Merritt has ever undertaken. Everyone is very focused on doing what we can to make sure the people of Merritt are able to come home as soon as possible.”