Do you know where to go if a tsunami is imminent for the Alberni Inlet?
A new event the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is hosting on April 12 focuses on what to do and where to go.
The Hike to High Ground will start Tuesday, April 12 at Spirit Square in Harbour Quay—which is within the tsunami inundation zone—at 1 p.m. People will walk up Argyle Street and turn toward Trinity Community Hall at Fifth Avenue and Angus Street, where refreshments, draw prizes and information will be available. Trinity Hall, housed in the Anglican Lutheran church, is one of the city’s emergency reception centres.
“We’re trying to promote the need to move to high ground and ‘hike to high ground’ when there is a tsunami warning,” said Karen Freethy, protective services co-ordinator for the ACRD.
Students from four classes at Maquinna Elementary School will be participating in the hike, and members of the public are invited to join in. “It’s a good evacuation route for people who are in the inundation zone to move to,” Freethy said.
The event is part of the province-wide Tsunami Preparedness Week in B.C. and is designed to share information on what to do in the event of a tsunami warning or actual tsunami.
Alberni Valley first responders and government leaders have learned a lot since the last tsunami warning on Jan. 23, 2018, said Freethy. People in Port Alberni panicked when the sirens went off, many did not know whether they needed to evacuate, people who were safe fled their homes and others caused a traffic jam at West Coast General Hospital in the parking lot. Information on what to do was lacking.
Freethy said city and ACRD officials are changing that, and events such as the Hike to High Ground are designed to get information out to the public before an emergency. Both local governments, led by the ACRD, have strengthened the Alberni Valley Emergency Program with dedicated staff, and there is now a district-wide Voyent Alert system available.
There are two important things for people to remember, she said: if you live in the tsunami inundation zone, which is approximately 20 metres above sea level (there is a map on the ACRD’s website that shows the zone), you need to move to high ground. If you already live on high ground you need to stay put, and leave the roads open for emergency responders and people who need to evacuate.
“The best way to protect yourself during a tsunami is to move to high ground and that’s what this (Hike to High Ground) event is reinforcing.”
For those who aren’t able to make it to the in-person event on April 12 but still want to participate, PreparedBC has a virtual component that includes a selfie contest. Take a hike to a tsunami-safe location, snap a selfie from the location and tag @PreparedBC on Twitter or Facebook. Use the hashtag #HighGroundSelfie22. More information is available at www.preparedbc.ca (search High Ground Hike 2022).