Tsunami scare spurs emergency prep

Parksville Qualicum Beach team has plans in place for potential emergency

While there was no threat of a tsunami in Parksville Qualicum Beach early Tuesday morning, Rob Daman said the Emergency Management Oceanside team was monitoring the situation.

Daman, Qualicum Beach EMO program co-ordinator, said he, Aaron Dawson from the City of Parksville and Jon Wilson from the Regional District of Nanaimo got a call from Emergency Management BC early the morning of Jan. 23 that an earthquake had taken place in Alaska.

RELATED: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

A tsunami warning was issued around 1:35 a.m. for coastal B.C. following the 7.9-magnitude quake off Kodiak Island. The National Tsunami Warning Center cancelled the alert at 4:12 a.m. “because additional information and analysis have better defined the threat.”

At the time of the warnings, Daman said, the Parksville Qualicum Beach region wasn’t among the threatened regions. Daman said he, Dawson and Wilson continued to monitor the situation, adding the EMO team sent out messages via social media to let residents know what was going on.

“In this case, our tsunami threat is very, very, very different than the west coast of the Island, or even the south or north end of the Island or other areas up the B.C. coast,” Daman said. “That knowledge is huge in an event like this, to understand that our tsunami threat is very minimal (compared) to some of the other areas when we have an earthquake that happened like this one up near Alaska.

“The impact to us is going to be very different than the coastal communities.”

While notifying the public, Daman said the team also did some advanced planning, so that if a tsunami did hit communities to the west or north, the Parksville Qualicum Beach team would be able to support those communities.

Tsunami alarms did sound in Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet between 3 a.m. and 4:40 a.m.

RELATED: Evacuated Tofino and Ucluelet residents head home after tsunami warning cancelled

RELATED: Tsunami warning prompts evacuations in Port Alberni

Daman said the local team reached out to emergency crews in Tofino and Bamfield, and “nobody was requesting any support at that time.”

“From everything we’ve heard, they did a very good job out there and residents co-operated very well.”

Daman said the Town of Qualicum Beach uses a notification system tied into the town recycling program’s digital notification service and the RDN operates a notification system through Connect Rocket. For more information, visit www.rdn.bc.ca/emergency-notifications.

“Now, in an event like (Tuesday’s), because we were not under warning, there was no need. In fact, probably more harm would have come out of it to do alerts for something that doesn’t directly impact us,” said Daman.

If there was an emergency situation in Parksville Qualicum Beach, Daman said to be aware of the hazards people have in their area. Daman also said having a plan in place for each family is a good idea, too.

“This event happened at night, so most people would have been home. Are they ready to leave in a minute’s notice, and if so, do they know what they’re taking with them and where they’re going to go?”

The City of Parksville issued a release Tuesday afternoon stating the city doesn’t notify residents when an earthquake happens “as the shaking creates a self-notifying situation.” The release also states the city doesn’t have a tsunami siren.

“The city does have a plan and should a tsunami warning be issued for our area, residents living in areas below the two-metre elevation would be evacuated using a combination of fire, police and search and rescue personnel.”

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