Nearly one year has passed since the atmospheric river caused flooding event devastated the province, leaving communities in ruins and challenging all those affected. The effects left behind by the devastation, evacuation, and turmoil of the flooding are still felt today, and the City of Merritt looks to commemorate the solemn day by bringing the community together.
The entire City of Merritt was evacuated on November 15, 2021, when the Coldwater River breached its banks and destroyed the City’s sewage system. The flood caused extensive damage to many properties, with some residents remaining displaced today. The road to recovery has not been a straightforward one, marked by public critique of the response to the flood, financial worries, and the burden of repairing homes and infrastructure. With their Thank Your Neighbour Day event, the City hopes to unite the community and share stories of triumph, astonishment, and recovery.
“The City recognized that we needed to recognize the traumatic events that happened a year ago in some form,” said Kim Mullin, communications and engagement manager with the City.
“We thought that the best way to do that was to rekindle the spirit of community connection that we all felt, rather than focus on the negative traumas. We need to create new memories, and just looking through what other cities have done after trauma events, they have held very similar events.”
Taking place at the Merritt Civic Centre on November 19, 2022, from 10 AM to 4 PM, Thank Your Neighbour Day will feature a display board of community submitted stories, a free BBQ lunch provided by the Rotary Club of Merritt, mental health supports, and other resources aimed towards community recovery and connections. The Merritt Home Based Business Market will take place on the same day at the Civic Centre, from 10 AM to 3 PM. United Way, Rotary, Samaritan’s Purse, Nicola Valley Museum and Archives, and the Nicola Valley Arts Council are among the event’s supporters.
Contributions to the event are welcomed, including stories donations, volunteer activities, resources, or other special additions. The City looks to foster a welcoming environment during the event, and will have multiple mental health resources on site as Merrittonians gather and reflect on an unprecedented and historic event. The Canadian Red Cross and Health Emergency Management BC will provide resources to those who require it. Dr. Natalie Clark and Jolene Anderson will provide support for Indigenous participants.
“One of our goals is to give everyone in the community a voice, and to share their stories,” added Mullin.
“We need to recognize the event and what people went through, but let’s try and also acknowledge and focus on the good that happened, all the neighbours and strangers that came together to help you. We want to embrace community connection.”
For more information on the event, or to submit your stories, visit www.merritt.ca/neighbourday, or call City Hall at 250-378-4224.