Tsunami Preparedness Week in the Alberni Valley is from March 27 to April 2 and residents are encouraged to educate themselves and devise a plan in the event of a tsunami.
March 27 marks 52 years since the Alberni Valley was hit by a four-metre-high wave causing millions of dollars in damages to homes and infrastructure in Port Alberni.
“You always want to have that grab-and-go bag ready in the event of a tsunami or any other emergency,” said Maggie Hodge Kwan, Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District emergency planning coordinator.
“You also want to be prepared for longer in case for some reason you had to stay in your home.”
Port Alberni’s tsunami inundation zone is difficult to describe, said Kwan, but maps are available at the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District or on their website.
“Understand that when that real siren goes off, not the didgeridoo which is the practice, but if the real siren goes the No. 1 thing that needs to twig in your mind is get to higher ground,” Kwan said.
As stated on the ACRD map, areas to stay clear from when the tsunami siren rings are the Sproat River, Stamp River, Somass River and the Alberni Inlet, among other areas.
“Some people who may be really interested may head down to the water to watch this thing come in,” said Kwan. “But tsunamis move at the speed of 400 to 800 km/h so very quickly it could be up to 20 to 25 metres and so it’s really important to get as far away from the inundation zone and the water as possible.”
In the case of a tsunami, residents who are in a low-lying area are advised to immediately move to higher ground.
The following locations are all 20 metres or more above sea level and safer places: above the tracks on Johnston Road, the top of Watty’s Hill, Falls Road at Lugrin Road, Golden Street above Nelson Road, above the tracks on Roger Street, Redford Street and Fifth Avenue, Argyle Street and Second Avenue and Kitsuksis Road above Neil Middle School.
The City of Port Alberni has a tsunami warning system consisting of a network of radio controlled public address speakers located at four sites at the edge of the inundation zone, according to the ACRD.
Folks can prepare themselves by having an emergency plan ready with family and neighbors and reviewing it regularly. The ACRD encourages people to gather emergency supplies now before an emergency occurs and to educate yourself on emergency preparedness, first aid and outdoor survival skills.
For more information on how to be prepared for a tsunami and an inundation zone map, visit the ACRD website.