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Merritt in Deep freeze Drive Around –

With no timeline for the estimated 7,000 evacuees from Merritt, B.C., to return home, some are growing frustrated with what they call a lack of communication and opaque emergency support system.
The emergency reception centre was activated in Kamloops on Monday, and moved to the Willow Park Church on Tuesday. It has been taking in evacuees primarily from Merritt and Princeton.

Reception centre manager Beryl Itani said so far between 800 and 900 people had signed up, and that the cetnre has been busy.

Emergency social services have been arranging hotels for people and were initially providing restaurant meals, but Itani said that’s changed as some restaurants have been forced to close due to supply shortages.

“We are giving people vouchers to go to the grocery store and get groceries for what they may need and then go back to their hotel rooms and look after themselves that way,” she said.

“It’s very tough and in all the years I’ve been doing this this is the worse I’ve ever seen in terms of evacuees and not having enough supplies for people.”

Supports have been extended from an initial 72 hours to seven days, she said, because most evacuees remain displaced.

Officials with the City of Merritt said Friday they were launching a call centre for residents to help provide information and have been in contact with Emergency Management BC to provide additional support for evacuees.

It said crews were also beginning rapid damage assessment of properties.

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