Local businesses and community members chip in with sandbag efforts

By on May 12, 2017
Locals, including employees of Mario's Towing in Merritt, stepped up to help the El Dorado trailer park after a call for volunteers went out online. (Cole Wagner/Herald).

As both the water level and tension rose in Merritt this morning, a variety of local businesses, community members and even kids turned up at locations around town, looking to lend a hand to residents who were placing protective sandbags around their property.

At the El Dorado trailer park, where a swollen Nicola River meandered dangerously close to people’s backyards, workers from Mario’s Towing were diligently filling bags and hauling them around on a flatbed trailer.

Word went out online Friday morning that the trailer park would need extra hands to lay sandbags, especially for a number of elderly residents, said Colleen Waddell, manager of the El Dorado trailer park. But she was floored by the response.

The sandbag crew at the El Dorado trailer park. Those with their hands in the air are volunteers who don’t actually live in the park itself. (Cole Wagner/Herald).

“I had no idea, the help and the support has been amazing,” said Colleen Waddell, manager of the El Dorado trailer park.

The local Tim Hortons store dropped off treats for the volunteers, while employees from Mario’s and Tom’s towing in Merritt led the sandbag assembly line.

While many of the residents of the park were dealing with water seeping onto driveways from the river, no trailers had incurred major structural damage as of the early afternoon on Friday, said Waddell.

MSS students man the sand piles at the Merritt civic centre. (Photo courtesy of Donny Lean).

Meanwhile, over at the Merritt civic centre, Merritt Secondary School students were helping out in shifts, running back and forth between the high school and the sandbagging operation near city hall.

“It has been a big team effort from many staff and students doing their part to help our community,” said MSS principal Bruce Bidney. “They have worked like a production [line] in various shifts that coincide with their classes.”

Another Merritt business, Boston Pizza, dropped off pizza for the hard-working sandbag crew, while Save-On Foods dropped off fruit and water, according to those in attendance.

Earlier in the day, employees of Sett Electrical were given the day off in order to chip in by filling and placing bags in trouble spots around town.

Employees of the Merritt-based contracting company Sett Electrical took a day off to respond to the flooding in various areas of town. (Cole Wagner/Herald).

The Herald caught up with that crew near Burgess Avenue behind the Crossroads Community Church, where the river had breached its banks and filled a number of backyards with water.

In one instance, two residents were observed getting into a dinghy in order to access their shed — only a few feet from the back porch of their home.

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