Port Alberni benefits from provincial training event

The provincial and local governments held a kickoff reception at Echo Centre on June 6 to introduce those involved to the exercise.

City of Port Alberni Coun. Denis Sauve speaks at an Exercise Coastal Response kickoff reception at Echo Centre on Monday night.

The flurry of emergency personnel descending on Port Alberni as part of Exercise Coastal Response in the next few days should leave the region much more prepared to deal with a natural disaster, said Emergency Management BC exercise specialist Rob Dodds.

“What we’re looking at running is a provincial level exercise to test the immediate response plan for an earthquake in British Columbia,” said Dodds of the province’s $1.2 million tsunami and earthquake exercise taking place in Port Alberni from June 7–10.

The provincial and local governments held a kickoff reception at Echo Centre on June 6 to introduce those involved to the exercise. An emergency response plan had been developed last year but according to Dodds, a plan that’s untested isn’t nearly as helpful.

“The first thing that we find with a plan is that it’s great that it’s all written out but now we have to exercise it. The aim is to find out what actually works and if there are areas of improvement.” Port Alberni was chosen as a test case because of its history.

“The main reason was because of the 1964 Alaska earthquake,” said Dodds, adding that seeing an emergency plan developed up there that focused exclusively on the effects on Alaska made him realize Canada needed its own plan.

“We felt that Port Alberni would be the best place—they’ve experienced the most that we know of in the west coast and they have the tsunami warning system.”

The 1964 Alaska earthquake generated a tsunami that hit Port Alberni on Good Friday, causing the destruction of buildings and vehicles but no loss of life. Pacific Rim-Alberni MLA Scott Fraser hopes that Coastal Response will ensure that when another disaster strikes, lives will once again not be lost.

“It’s going to be about saving lives. Seconds and minutes count in a situation like this,” Fraser said, citing his experience as a petroleum firefighter. “Putting out a refinery fire was something we read about but until they sent us to training in Nevada where we actually had to put out refinery fires—they actually lit a refinery on fire and we had to put it out—that was the only thing that made it real.”

The threat of a tsunami is all too real to Tseshaht First Nations Coun. Hugh Braker.

“All of our reserves are located along the sea. Out of all of the thousands of Nuu-chah-nulth people who live on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the vast majority of them live less than three metres above sea level,” Braker said. Port Alberni residents would likely have 10 to 15 minutes to get above the tsunami inundation zone, he said—and that doesn’t include people living on the extreme west coast.

Braker remembers clearly the aftermath of the 1964 tsunami. “I was 11 at the time and I remember the day as vividly as if it were yesterday.

“We know that it’s going to happen again and we know that when it does happen it’s going to be you relying on me and me relying on you. It’s going to be the Alberni Valley that has to be on its own for a long, long time.”

Dodds said that Exercise Coastal Response will integrate close to 60 federal, provincial and local agencies in carrying out an emergency response.

“The aim is to find out what actually works and if there are areas of improvement,” he said. City of Port Alberni Coun. Denis Sauve said he was impressed by the level of integration of all facets of government, as well as other regional partners.

“This will be a great way for us to learn together, not only as the City of Port Alberni residents but our regional district, Aboriginal and west coast neighbours.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

facebook.com/albernivalleynews

twitter.com/alberninews

Just Posted

Cherry Creek firefighters mourn former deputy chief

Brian Brick is the second Alberni Valley firefighter to die of work-related cancer in January

Port Alberni to consider the future of McLean Mill

City council will be holding a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 21

Intern gives Port Alberni’s museum artifacts an update

St. John’s man travelled more than 7,000 kms to assist with curatorial duties

BCHL: Bulldogs best Salmon Arm at home

Bulldogs face Powell River in Sunday matinee Jan. 20; puck drop is 2 p.m.

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report details ‘flagrant overspending’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Vancouver Island senior dies after medical emergency and rollover crash

Incident happened Saturday in Nanaimo on Poplar Street

Most Read