This week is Tsunami Preparedness Week (April 10–16) across British Columbia.
The Alberni Valley has not experienced a serious tsunami since 1964. In the late-night hours of March 27 that year, two waves created by an earthquake in Alaska gathered speed as they came up Alberni Inlet and pushed water all the way up the Somass River and moved cars, houses, lumber and anything else in their path.
The first wave was two and a half metres high and the second was three metres. Some reports had the wave as high as eight metres.
The city hasn’t seen anything as disastrous as the 1964 tsunami, but the threat remains. The last tsunami warning we received was only in 2018; it happened in the middle of the night and sent panic throughout the city. People were largely unprepared, some city and regional officials included.
Preparing people for potential disasters is why this week has been created. In our region the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District planned a Hike to High Ground on Tuesday, April 12 to drive home the message that people living and working within the tsunami inundation zone need to leave for higher ground when the warning sirens sound.
The second message is to have a plan. Learn whether your home or workplace is within the inundation zone, and where you need to go in order to be safe.
The ACRD’s Emergency Program website has a wealth of information about how to prepare for an emergency—not just a tsunami warning. There is also information on how to sign up for the region-wide Voyent Alert system. More information from a provincial source can be found at www.preparedbc.ca.
The ACRD has followed through on its promise to improve systems and provide more information to the public. Training is ongoing for first responders, as the region’s evacuation plan is fine-tuned.
Now it is our turn to ensure we are as prepared as we can be for a natural disaster.
— Alberni Valley News