By JACKIE TEGART
MLA, Fraser Nicola
“WHAT YOU ARE COMING HOME TO is a city that’s changed.”
Those were the words of Merritt Mayor Linda Brown this week, as she shared that some Merritt residents would soon be able to return to their homes after recent catastrophic floods that forced the evacuation of the entire city.
While that news was met with some relief and happiness, it was also met with a sense of fear and dread. Residents are undoubtedly worried about the state of their homes and understand that an incredible amount of work to restore, repair and rebuild lies ahead — likely at a significant financial cost.
Other parts of my riding of Fraser-Nicola have also seen tremendous devastation. Highway 8 between Merritt and Spences Bridge suffered incredible damage, with BC Hydro also reporting at least 75 power poles had been lost. On the stretch of the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt, a number of areas have been hit hard and repairs — even temporary ones — are expected to take months.
And we all sympathized with the people trapped on Highway 7 between two slides, one at Ruby Creek in my riding and another at Mt. Woodside in a neighbouring riding. It was heartwarming to see a number of local businesses, community groups and individuals step up to the plate to help people access some food and warmth.
Tragically, we also saw the loss of at least four people after a mudslide came down on the Duffey Lake Road which is a popular travel route for many people in the Interior. Our condolences go out to their families and loved ones who are facing this tragic loss.
Our entire province shares in the grief and utter shock over what has been lost in this disaster. In this time of crisis, we have seen incredible resilience from those most affected — and much kindness on the part of other British Columbians who want to help.
I began this fall Legislative session advocating for more supports and better communication for Lytton residents and others recovering from this summer’s vicious wildfire season and heat dome event. I ended the session calling for much of the same help, this time for constituents dealing with floods.
Despite the session drawing to a close this week, the Official Opposition will continue to speak up on behalf of those who have been displaced and those who have a long road to recovery ahead of them.
If any Fraser-Nicola residents need help accessing flood supports or have any questions about the recovery process, please don’t hesitate to contact my office toll-free at 1-877-378-4802 or by emailing Jackie.Tegart.MLA@leg.bc.ca.
I know that for a lot of people, it’s hard to have hope right now. Please know you have so much support behind you, and we will get through this — again — together.
Jackie Tegart was elected as the MLA for Fraser-Nicola in 2013, 2017, and again in 2020. She currently serves as the Official Opposition critic for Education. Previously, she was Official Opposition Caucus Chair and a Member of the Special Committee to Appoint a Chief Electoral Officer.