A mock earthquake and tsunami will be hitting the Alberni Valley and the after-effects will be felt June 7–10 in an effort to help the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District better understand how to be prepared for the real thing.
The ACRD in conjunction with the province are coordinating British Columbia’s first-ever provincially led, full-scale earthquake response exercise that will test elements of the new B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan. The province has provided $1 million to support Exercise Coastal Response.
Exercise Coastal Response is an initiative to highlight the many components of a provincial response to a major emergency.
“The auditor general of the province took a look at the province’s preparedness for major emergencies and came up with a number of recommendations,” said Russell Dyson, chief administrative officer at the ACRD. “The province has taken action as a result of the recommendations and announced Exercise Coastal Response.”
Dyson said the province needed a venue for the exercise and given Port Alberni’s history in dealing with a tsunami in the 1960s, and having a tsunami warning system, that here would be an ideal location.
The exercise will involve the real-time deployment of the Provincial Coordination Team, a cross-government group that can be activated to bring support to a local authority in an emergency, and the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team from Vancouver.
“We anticipate close to 300 different professionals that are engaged in the exercise that will be here within the community,” Dyson said. “We want to give them, outside of the exercise, that Port Alberni hospitality.”
The ACRD will be operating an emergency operations centre during the June exercise to help coordinate resources and situation reports for the province, members of the public and first responders who will be out in the field.
“The public can be assured that there won’t be disruptions to the day-to-day but what they will see is components of a response in parts of the community,” Dyson said.
Dyson encourages people to prepare themselves prior to the exercise by having a grab and go kit ready, filled with essential items that could help them and their families in the case of an emergency.
“Both the province and the regional district has a lot of information on their websites,” Dyson said.