Kamloops Search and Rescue helped save a dozen people in flooded Merritt

By: Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) members helped save a dozen people from flood-stricken homes when waters rose in Merritt last week.
Amidst their efforts, they also had a vehicle stolen.
KSAR sent its swift water rescue team to Merritt on Nov. 15 to help Nicola Valley Search and Rescue when the Coldwater River breached its banks, inundating large parts of Merritt with floodwaters.
Alan Hobler, KSAR manager, said the two search teams saved more than a dozen people that day.
“There was quite a few people whose homes were fully flooded and we had to use boats to go in and retrieve those individuals,” Hobler said.
There were no deaths or injuries amidst that operation, he said, but there were some “dramatic” rescues.
“People [were] very upset. Their homes are full of water and they’re trying to retrieve their pets,” Hobler said. “We were really under a crunch to go to as many places as possible, so we were hastily retrieving people from their homes and getting their pets.”
Hobler said the team visited many flooded homes and didn’t have time to “diddle daddle,” noting some people asked for 20 minutes to pack.
“We didn’t have the time for that,” Hobler said.
That same day, a KSAR search and rescue vehicle was stolen, Hobler said.
The vehicle’s engine stalled in the floodwaters and the decision was made to leave it and get help to have it towed to a garage.
“And in that time, the vehicle disappeared,” Hobler said, noting it turned up the next day day in another part of Merritt, unscathed.
Hobler said it was a strange occurrence to happen in the middle of a natural disaster.
“It was a little bizarre,” Hobler said.
The vehicle is now back in KSAR’s possession after the RCMP retrieved it.
KSAR was only in Merritt for that one day, but Emergency Management BC has asked the Kamloops team to be prepared to be deployed in case it is again needed.