I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the City of Merritt’s Mayor and Council, city staff, first responder and all the volunteers as well as the agencies involved in the Emergency Social Services program for their excellent efforts in dealing with the recent breach of the Coldwater River.  Yes, we were directed to leave our homes and businesses in accordance with the evacuation order as the safety and security of our citizens were at risk, and, yes, some citizens chose to stay behind, despite the evacuation order.

As a person significantly affected by the flood, I can only offer praise for each and every person who contributed to helping others in what can only be described as a successful intervention in a highly critical situation.  I am deeply grateful to those who had to make difficult decisions in the face of imminent disaster, as well as to those who carried out the directives in a very professional and caring manner.

It is easy to criticize those persons who acted on our behalf, and to complain about the services offered to all residing in our fair city.  Throughout all this upheaval, not once did I experience any angry outbursts or behaviours directed at me that were not in keeping with the seriousness of the situation.  It seemed to me that people supported each other, as did ESS, the Red Cross, and other organizations such as the Nicola Valley and District Food Bank.

I lost my vehicle and the entire contents and inner structure of my basement to the flood, but I will always be thankful to those who acted on our behalf to ensure our safety and well-being.  Surely we as citizens need to recognize and acknowledge the tough job faced by the city’s personnel and first responders, a catastrophic event that this valley has not seen in many decades.  

For those unhappy with the evacuation, plan, I can only say try to see through your eyes the big picture. The evacuation order was not only about you, it was about us as a community standing together in the face of a horrific circumstance. If anyone else can do better, let them step up the plate and take action.  It’s not easy to be leaders in times such as these.  Let us be thankful for those who are doing their best to try to lead us safely home, despite what many of us are currently facing: the loss and damage to our homes, businesses and properties.

Thank you again for all your help and support, Mayor Brown and Council, first responders ESS staff, volunteers and organizations such as the Red Cross, and all the other individuals and groups who pitched in to help the City of Merritt in times of its most dire need.  You have served us very well, indeed.

In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the compassionate RCMP officer who escorted my pets and me safely to waiting transportation.  I would also like to sincerely thank a young couple completely unknown to me arriving at my door bearing gifts during the Christmas season.  You have big hearts and so does Merritt.

 Bonnie Cowan