Members of the Shackan First Nation to return home, more than 90 days after flood
Published February 17, 2022 at 5:00 pm
MERRITT, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Members of a British Columbia First Nation who were evacuated more than 90 days ago when a nearby river changed course during catastrophic floods are set to return home.
Chief Arnie Lampreau of the Shackan Indian Band says he never expected community members would be off their reserve in the Nicola Valley for so long.
The band declared a state of emergency on Nov. 15 in order to implement an evacuation order for all 45 properties on its reserve as storms known as atmospheric rivers washed over the area near Merritt.
He says the order is being changed to an alert today for properties on the north side of the reserve, while another seven south of the river, including his own, must remain unoccupied.
Lampreau says staff have been working 12 to 14 hours a day on property inspections, recommissioning wells, testing water and dealing with fridges, stoves and hot water tanks that froze in the past three months.
He says community members have been scattered, staying with families, friends and in emergency housing after the disaster.
“They’re excited to come home,” Lampreau said in an interview.
He said the landscape has permanently changed after it was charred by wildfires last summer then submerged by floods.
“Of course, the fire devastation and the greenery around there, it’s all black now. We’ve had two devastations all at once,” he said.
“The river doesn’t have any banks anymore. The river is a lot wider and a lot flatter. The gravel deposits have vastly changed the whole river system.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2022.
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