Dozens of Merritt, BC residents defied evacuation orders out of concern about looters, as floodwaters flooded the town with contaminated water and caused a bridge to collapse.
One of those families was rescued from a roof Tuesday afternoon, when North Shore rescue teams flew in by helicopter from the Lower Mainland to help. In an Instagram post, the group of volunteers said they had rescued a family of three and their dog surrounded by water.
On Tuesday morning, residents woke to a 3cm thick layer of snow covering the town, which has a population of about 7,200 but is largely empty after an evacuation order was issued, save for a few organizations and recovery teams. feedback and engineers.
“More than half of the town is gone, it seems like a door is open to get what you want,” said Darsell Poittris, describing staying up in the middle of the night to watch out for looters.
“Every (accommodation) we called is sold out, so where are you going? I would rather stay indoors with these problems and in the car with my animals and my kids.”
The BC RCMP told CTV News that authorities have not had any reports of looting taking place and officers are patrolling to ensure the safety of people and property, but rumors and concerns persist. .
“Unfortunately, you have bad guys looting,” said resident Sean Cainey, who described widespread confusion and information gaps.
“I have one of the lowest properties on the street, thankfully the water is across the street. That’s why I decided to stay, here to help everyone I can and keep everyone informed about everything.”
SOME CONFIRMED CONTROLS, DON’T KNOW MORE
Administration officials are urging people to leave and stay away, with the town’s failed sewage treatment plant contaminating flood water and making tap water unsafe to drink.
There are also safety concerns around damaged infrastructure, with a bridge near Colletville on the south side of town collapsing overnight.
“As a result, we are not confident about the structure of any bridge in the city,” said Greg Lowis of the City of Merritt. . “
However, that won’t happen until the water recedes. Meanwhile, Lowis said, “nobody should use any of the bridges in Merritt.”
That message was echoed by District president Thompson Nicola, who warned displaced residents to prepare for the worst.
“It was overwhelming. Ken Gillis said: “There is too much area under water, many houses are flooded, businesses are also flooded. “I’m afraid it won’t be until the water recedes enough for people to know how much damage has been done, but it certainly has caused damage to the homeowner.”