Tsunami sirens used for real

For Alberni residents, the most noticeable reminder of the 1964 disaster takes place at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month

For Port Alberni residents, the most noticeable reminder of the 1964 disaster takes place at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.  The message blares from speakers poised high above the ground at a series of strategic locations:

“This is a test… only a test… of the tsunami warning system.”

In theory, the system is meant to broadcast a series of levels of alert, from Tsunami Advisory to evacuation order, as information comes in to the Emergency Operations Centre at Fourth Avenue and Angus Street.

But on the evening of June 14, 2005, when a Magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of California, less than an hour away as the tsunami travels, fire chief Larry McGifford was forced to make a snap decision.

At 9:01 p.m., the tsunami warning system blared out its pre-programmed message: “Tsunami warning! Tsunami warning! Evacuate to higher ground!”

The alert caused a brief panic, especially in the low-lying areas of the city as people fled their homes and followed evacuation routes to higher ground. CJAV news man Rob Diotte left a school board meeting in progress and took over manual control of the radio station. With an update from the EOC, he broadcast the stand-down order at 9:20 and the warning system broadcast the All Clear.

It was a false alarm. But the system worked as intended.

“Sometimes you have to observe and sometimes you have to react. One hour is not a whole lot of time,” McGifford said.

Just Posted

Alberni hosts Island track and field championship

Secondary schools compete at Bob Dailey Stadium

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

200,000 salmon smolts released in netpens for Alberni salmon enhancement

West Coast Aquatic has released 205,000 chinook smolts into two net pens… Continue reading

Virtual simulation engages users in the event of a tsunami hitting Port Alberni

A team from the University of Victoria display a tsunami simulation at the 2018 #BCTECH Summit

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Searchers for Vancouver Island father turn focus to Cowichan River

Cowichan SAR joined by many other SAR groups, volunteers now determined to find missing man

Vacationers urged to check for stowaway bats that could carry deadly disease

‘White-nose syndrome’ has killed millions of bats in North America, but hasn’t arrived in B.C. yet

Highway 19A closed in both directions near Union Bay

An incident involving a vehicle has shut down Highway 19A in both directions early Saturday morning.

Are B.C.’s gas prices enough to keep you from travelling May long weekend?

Gas prices in B.C. ranging from 125 cents per litre to more than 150 cents

Most Read