In response to the City of Merritt’s curbside debris collection for flood affected homes ending on April 30, the veteran-lead disaster response charity Team Rubicon looks to relieve the sense of pressure and urgency homeowners may feel to meet this deadline.

This next phase of the organization’s flooding response, which began April 19, is focused on supporting residents in the form of house clean outs and debris management. Trained volunteers offering these services will be in town until April 30, and available to homeowners free of charge.

Since December 6, Merrittonians have been provided with curbside collection of flood debris from their affected properties. This included pickup of all debris, from food waste and household garbage, to asbestos and large building debris. Some homeowners may not yet have finished the cleanup process despite collection ending at the end of this month, a pressure to which Team Rubicon responded by offering additional support.

“We know there is urgency to get debris to the curb by the end of April, and if you have unmet needs our team is here to help,” said Jeff Becker, Team Rubicon Canada’s Incident Commander for this operation in a recent press release. “Our volunteers are grateful for the community support and how well we have been received by people we have helped so far.”

Satisfying Merrittonians immediate needs is top priority for Team Rubicon, as well as other members of the City’s unmet needs committee. The newly formed committee is focused on filling gaps in service for flood affected residents, and is formed by over 20 community members, organizations, and stakeholders.

“We’re getting out there and getting after it,” added Becker. “It’s pretty fantastic to see the resilience in this community, and we’re trying to maximize our impact by helping residents get debris to the curb, but also do it safely.”

Team Rubicon has found that many homes in the flood inundation area still have unmet needs as far as debris and mold removal, and even basics such as access to utilities. Safety is a top priority of the organization, only sending in volunteers to clean ups that have been deemed safe to enter, and handling potentially hazardous on behalf of homeowners, with proper precautions in place.

“Knowing there’s only 11 days left, I think the more organizations that are operating, the better. That’s just going to be the best value,” said Becker, referring to his organization’s involvement in the unmet needs committee, and their close working partnership with the City of Merritt government.

“Currently we have 12 volunteers on the ground, and we’ll be up to 16 to 18 volunteers for our last week. We’re also looking to help with Community Clean Up Day, organizing crews and providing PPE.”

The organization, primarily run by former service members, is being housed by Merritt’s own Royal Canadian Legion Branch 96. Volunteers are grateful for the warm welcome, both by the Legion and the community.

“Being a part of this community led solution, and the warm reception we’ve had have been absolutely fantastic. Being supported in the way that we have, it just enables us to give back more to the community while we’re here. It’s been a positive experience, and the volunteers and residents that we’ve interacted with have all been a positive experience as well.”

Moving forward, Team Rubicon is focused on its current work orders, and will continue to support the community through clean up services until the end of their stay, set to conclude April 30.

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