Officials kept phones close during quake

Fire chiefs in Parksville and QB getting hourly tsunami updates

The tsunami warning in the wake Saturday night’s earthquake off Haida Gwaii serves as a good emergency preparation reminder for our district, say local officials.

There were provincial e-mails and radio and TV notification, but newer technology may have been the fastest way to hear about the earthquake. District 69 was never  included in the tsunami warnings Saturday night.

“I have an app on my iPhone that lets me know whenever there’s an earthquake within a certain radius,” said Parksville mayor Chris Burger who had just arrived at a Halloween party when it started beeping.

He he did get the provincial e-mails, but not until he got home to his computer after the party.

The first official provincial tsunami bulletin was e-mailed at 9:05 p.m., about an hour after the earthquake but never included Zone E — the Georgia Basin which is protected by the Island — meaning there is little risk of a serious tsunami.

There isn’t enough water or space to build up a large wave in the Straight of Georgia explained Parksville fire chief Doug Banks, who said they do still have a tsunami backup plan for the lowest areas like San Pariel, Surfside and Craig Bay.

Both Qualicum Beach and Parksville fire chiefs said risk assessments have suggested a tsunami here wouldn’t be more than a metre or two, affecting very few homes or other buildings.

They received hourly updates of the risk throughout Saturday night, but the warnings that ranged from Alaska to California and Hawaii at various points, never included Zone E.

“But this is a great reminder of how active our region is, a 7.7 (earthquake) would completely stop a community from functioning,” Burger pointed out. “It’s good to have these little rumbles every now and then, it’s a good chance to talk to the kids and think about having an emergency kit.”

 

Banks agreed that they urge everyone to be prepared to be on their own for at least 72 hours in the event of a major earthquake — the more serious local threat.

 

 

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