BC’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has released an information bulletin advising that helicopter operations to clear debris from local waterways are ongoing, a move they hope will expedite the process of clearing the over 270 pieces of large debris identified in BC’s interior.

Helicopters could be spotted flying over the Thompson, Nicola, and Coldwater rivers over the last week, aiding flood cleanup efforts in areas still inaccessible to ground crews. Merrittonians can get used to the sight and sound of these choppers for the time being, as flood recovery efforts continue both within city limits and beyond. 

The Province is working hard to assess waterway debris, and is engaging private citizens, local authorities, and First Nations to aid in restoration efforts, said the Ministry. Human-made debris removal efforts along the Nicola River also continues, with particular attention given to the Shackan and Nooaitch Indian Reserves. Much of the Thompson and Coldwater rivers remain too dangerous for ground crews to access as well, with boots-on-the-ground support only available where it is safe for workers. 

The debris identified by the Ministry so far, sought out via public input and air reconnaissance, varies widely in size and nature. Blockages in these rivers include roads, bridges, buildings, vehicles, and sea-cans. 

This effort is one of many that the province hopes will support the Merritt area’s recovery, including a recent announcement of $24.25million in funding to aid housing initiatives and clean up in the community.  

With flood recovery and cleanup still very much a work in progress throughout the province’s interior, the devastation from November’s atmospheric river caused flooding can still be seen in all directions. The Ministry is asking those that see something, say something. 

Those wishing to report debris in BC waterways can call 1-800-663-3456, or visit the Ministry’s new online reporting tool at: https://flood-debris-assessment-explorer-bcgov03.hub.arcgis.com/.