Officials in Merritt concerned as Coldwater River rises again

River getting high in Merritt

UPDATE: 10:40 p.m.

The Coldwater River in Merritt is twice as high on Sunday night as it was on Sunday morning, according to Environment Canada data.

As of 9:05 p.m., Environment Canada readings for the Coldwater River at Merritt show a height of 2.722 metres. The river was 1.315 metres in height early Sunday morning.

The Coldwater River peaked on Nov. 15 at 3.473 metres in height.

Merritt Mayor Linda Brown said Sunday the city is keeping a close eye on the river, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Earlier on Sunday evening, the City of Merritt urged residents living in low-lying areas — properties that have been on evacuation order since Nov. 15 — to leave their homes.

UPDATE: 9:40 p.m.

In a Facebook update Sunday night, Merritt Mayor Linda Brown told residents the city is “Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst," as a third storm is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday bringing in significant amounts of precipitation.

Brown said phase two residents were able to go home Sunday, however, phase three was suspended as of 3 p.m. due to the Cold Water river continuing to rise.

“All is not grim. City crews have worked hard to secure infrastructure, repair dykes and reinforce banks around the Coldwater River.”

Brown also addressed reports that flaggers were being threatened and intimated at their posts around the phase four area.

"I call on all of our residents to be civil and gentle,” she said.

Brown said she is hopeful those in phase three will be able to return home tomorrow morning, but urged residents to continue to watch for updates as the situation continues to evolve.

UPDATE: 8:15 p.m.

The City of Merritt is urging residents south of Nicola Avenue to leave their homes.

In a Facebook update Sunday night the City of Merritt said river flows on the Coldwater River through Merritt on Sunday have now reached 138 cubic metres per second.

Earlier in the day, the river was flowing through Merritt at 56.2 cubic metres per second. On Saturday, it was measured at 9.6 cubic metres per second.

According to BC River Forecast Centre data, the river surpassed 250 cubic metres per second on Nov. 15.

Anyone who is in the evacuation order (south of Nicola Avenue) should leave immediately for their own safety, the city said.

UPDATE: 3:10 p.m.

The Canadian Armed Forces are helping City of Merritt crews reinforce flood defences as the Coldwater River rises, according to the city.

In a statement Sunday, Merritt Mayor Linda Brown said the military “are an incredible force.”

“We’ve had help from neighbouring local governments since this began, and with the incoming weather system it’s now appropriate to bring in the army to help shore up our flood defences,” Brown said.

Brown said the military’s work will help the city be as well-prepared as it can be when the next streamflow pulse hits — expected later on Sunday.

The city said earlier Sunday that it is monitoring a rise in the Coldwater River at the Brookmere gauge.

“This provides approximately an 8-hour lead time until there is a corresponding rise in Merritt,” the city said in a statement.

“The current trajectory of the water levels indicates that flooding in Merritt is a possiblity.”

The city said all residents checking on properties south of Nicola Avenue will need to evacuate the area by 3 p.m. Sunday. According to the city, emergency response personnel will not be going door-to-door to notify residents, as the area has been under evacuation order since Nov. 15.

Residents have been permitted back into the city through phased system. Those in phase 3 had been allowed day access to check up on their property, but this has been suspended due to the rising river.

Those north of Nicola Avenue are on evacuation alert, and should be prepared to leave on short notice.

ORIGINAL: 1:35 p.m.

People who have been permitted day access to their Merritt homes to assess damage from flooding two weeks ago are once again being told they have to evacuate.

According to the BC River Forecast Centre, The Coldwater River is on the rise again, due to the latest atmospheric river bringing heavy rain to parts of southern B.C.

All Merritt residents under the evacuation order, which affects properties south of Nicola Avenue, must leave the area by 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28.

According to the city, emergency response personnel will not be going door-to-door to notify people, because the area has been under an evacuation order since Nov. 15. Day access to the area is being suspended.

Those on evacuation alert north of Nicola Avenue should be prepared to leave on short notice. Residents are advised to collect important documents, medications, valuables and keepsakes, so they can leave if required.

The City of Merritt says it continues to work with the BC River Forecast Centre and has observed a rise in the water level on Coldwater River at the Brookmere gauge. That gave the city about an 8-hour lead-time before the high water is due to arrive in Merritt.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District has also issued evacuation orders for 56 properties in two locations in the Petit Creek and Spius Creek Area as flooding poses an immediate threat to the Spius Creek bridge.

RCMP are actively carrying out tactical evacuations for properties affected.

In Merritt, crews are working to protect critical infrastructure. They are reinforcing river banks and repairing dikes.

Fortifications have been placed at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and at sanitary manholes to limit infiltration of floodwaters.

"Despite an incredible effort by city crews to reinforce and restore the banks of the Coldwater River, our community is still vulnerable to flooding,' said Mayor Linda Brown. "The river is rising and we are monitoring our river banks and are prepared to do what is necessary to keep our citizens safe."

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