Neighborhood cleanup helps Merritt flood victims

Shovels, rakes and wheel barrels moved through Merritt on Saturday as a group of volunteers helped clean up residents’ properties.

Many are still struggling with the aftermath of the massive November 15 flood. It’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors Day, an event hosted by the Town of Merritt, encouraging residents to help each other with recovery cleanup.

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“We held a community ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors’ event where people who weren’t affected by the floods can help people who are still struggling to recover,” said Steve Armstrong, City Coordinator of Merritt.

“We have about 120 community volunteers, who work and help people clean up their yards and gardens.”

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Part of the volunteer effort is Team Rubicon, a veteran-led group that focuses on disaster recovery in Canadian communities.

“It means a lot to us to be here.” said Jael Lodge, a Team Rubicon crew chief.

“I’m also a resident of British Columbia and I have all these events happening in our backyard… It’s really important to be able to give back to the community, to come here and help. It could be us next time.

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The volunteers worked hard, removing the dirt and mud that solidified during the winter. Community members of all ages showed up for the task.

Joann Irvine, whose home is 30 yards from the Coldwater River, said she was moved when the volunteers showed up.

“It makes me incredibly grateful. In fact, when they arrived, I cried,” Irvine said.

“It’s very devastating for people and you don’t know where to start because the task is huge. And when people show up and show up with overwhelmingly positive attitudes, there’s only one way to describe it. It is a blessing.

The Town of Merritt also hosted a Thank You BBQ for Rotary Park volunteers and residents after the cleanup.

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Edward L. Robinett