This week marks 50 years since the great tsunami surged up the Alberni Inlet and left behind damaged homes and cars, a mess of logs in the harbour and a new awareness and respect for the power of the sea.
Fifty years ago, people were taken aback by the devastation along the waterfront when they woke up on Good Friday, March 1964. Since then, municipal governments have worked hard to ensure that word will get out as fast as possible in the event of a tsunami. The tsunami warning system, which blares its test the first Wednesday afternoon of each month, is the most visible change in the past 50 years.
So much more has gone on.
As with the development of earthquake awareness on the West Coast, so too has awareness for tsunami safety increased.
But there is room for improvement. It is too easy to become complacent with numerous tsunami advisories or warnings, but no immediate danger. Education and awareness of what to do in the event of a tsunami must continue.
Now, if only we can convince people that when the sirens go for real, they are supposed to head for higher ground—not down to Harbour Quay to ‘watch the water come in’.
Perhaps seeing the high water mark affixed indelibly on the Clock Tower will be a good reminder of what sort of folly that would be.
— Alberni Valley News