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'It is brutal': Flood's damage revealed as water recedes in Merritt

Assessments can't be completed until the waters recede.

“It is brutal. There is a lot of people that lost everything and I don’t have a clue how long it is going to take to bring it back. I would think a long time.”

Merritt resident Ted Cederland says he is one of the lucky ones. His home remains untouched by water.

“It was about half an inch or maybe less from getting into my garage.”

On Tuesday morning, much of the floodwater receded, but extensive damage to homes, cars, schools, roadways and bridges remains.

Merritt was placed on evacuation order at about 10 a.m. on Monday after the Coldwater River spilled its banks following intense rainfall that began on Sunday. The city's wastewater system failed and drinking water has been contaminated by floodwaters.

Cederland says he chose to stay put.

“I decided I wasn’t going to leave because I've got way too much in my shop. I got up this morning and I took all the snow off my car outside. I melted that and I managed to get a case of water yesterday.”

The City of Merritt told residents they should expect to remain on evacuation order for a week or more.

One of three bridges spanning the Coldwater River in Merritt collapsed overnight Monday, and city officials on Tuesday ordered the remaining two closed pending engineering assessments.

Greg Lowis, the city's emergency operations centre head, says the assessments cannot be completed until the waters recede.

The bridge that collapsed was the Middlesboro Bridge, which is part of Voght Street.

Lowis says the loss of the bridges leaves the community of Collettville completely cut off from the rest of Merritt. Some residents who refused to evacuate remain stranded in Collettville.

Cederland suggested some of the homes in that neighbourhood are very old and will not hold up well against a flood.

Lowis says the city has told those residents to shelter in place. As of Tuesday, he says there is no way to get supplies or people across the river.

“A lot of these homes and a lot of them in Collettville were built years and years ago and they are sitting on wooden blocks so they are just floating around. A lot of them are not salvageable," Cederland adds.

At this point the extent of the damage is unknown.

The City of Merritt announced late Tuesday night it is setting up a convoy system to allow people to pass through the community without stopping. Those who have a valid reason for transit will be required to wait and will be escorted through Merritt on Highway 8 in convoys.