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Deadline looms for Merritt residents impacted by November flood

About 909 residents are still out of their homes due to flood damages

Time is running out for Merritt homeowners affected by November's flooding to apply for provincial disaster assistance.

According to the City of Merritt, about 909 residents are still out of their homes due to flood damages.

Though the homes closest to the river are most visibly damaged, other homes remain uninhabitable as well. The number is still unknown, as not all home owners have registered with the recovery centre in town.

“There's just different stages of what's not livable, some are completely destroyed, some have too much damage to be lived in,” Greg Solecki, City of Merritt recovery manager, told Castanet Kamloops.

The deadline for residents to apply for Disaster Financial Assistance from the province is coming up on March 3, and the city is urging residents to return to Merritt and check in with the recovery centre before the deadline to ensure their properties are assessed.

“There's a deadline coming up for Disaster Financial Assistance on March 3 that we really need them to come in and fill out and be prepared for,” Solecki said.

He said that if residents miss the deadline to apply, they may miss out on receiving any provincial funding.

The city is still waiting for provincial funding to repair infrastructure, but Solecki said the bigger issue residents are facing right now is finding accommodation closer to home.

“Because the accommodation was zero per cent before the flood, it's less than zero now, if that's possible,” he said.

“We know there are programs and plans in place to have some affordable housing, but we need to access those funds from the province and we need to help from them to get that done.”

Solecki said he worries the longer residents must wait to return home, the odds of them relocating and not coming back to Merritt increase, as seen in similar disaster situations in other municipalities.

According to Solecki, provincial assessment is still underway, and the city is on track to start repairs and river clean up soon. However, Solecki said it will take a while for the city to make a full recovery.

“There's so many different pieces and parts to that as far as the infrastructure that needs to be repaired, some will will be completed within months, maybe in the summer, but the bigger projects could take years," he said.