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Neighbourhood clean-up helps Merritt flood victims

Shovels, rakes and wheel barrels were moving on Saturday in Merritt, as a group of volunteers helped clean up residents’ properties.

Many are still dealing with the after-effects of the massive flood back on Nov. 15. It’s ‘neighbours helping neighbours’ day, an event put on by the City of Merritt, encouraged residents to help one another with recovery clean-up.

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“We’ve organized a ‘neighbours helping neighbours’ community event where people that haven’t been impacted by the flooding get to help people that are still struggling with their recovery,” said Steve Armstrong, a City of Merritt coordinator.

“We have about 120 volunteers from the community, out working, and helping people get their yards and gardens cleaned up.”

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Part of the volunteer effort is Team Rubicon, a veteran-led group that focuses on disaster recovery in Canadian communities.

“It means a lot to us to be here.” said Jael Lodge, a Team Rubicon team leader.

“I’m a B.C. resident as well and having all these events happening in our backyard… It’s really important to be able to give back to the community, get out here and help. It could be us next time.”

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Volunteers were hard at work, removing dirt and mud that solidified over the winter. Community members of all ages showed up for the task.

Joann Irvine, whose home lies 30 metres from the Coldwater River said she was emotional when the volunteers showed up.

“It makes me feel incredibly grateful. In fact, when they showed up I cried,” said Irvine.

“It’s very devastating for people and you don’t know where to start because the job is so big. And when the people show up and show up with tremendously positive attitudes, there is only way to describe it. It’s a blessing.”

The City of Merritt also hosted a thank you barbeque for the volunteers and residents at Rotary Park, following the cleanup.

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