North Vancouver Island was spared injury and damage from the tsunami that raced across the Pacific Ocean following last Friday’s massive earthquake off the Japanese coast.
But there was no way to know that in the immediate aftermath of the quake, and the response of provincial and local emergency response organizations was admirable.
In communities as small as Quatsino, local emergency response coordinators were promptly notified when the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issued first a tsunami watch and, a short time later, an upgraded tsunami alert.
Working with data from the Alaska center, B.C.’s Provincial Emergency Program spread the word. Chuck Lok, North Island Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Regional District of Mount Waddington was tasked with coordinating local communications throughout the wee hours of the morning while many residents slept unaware of the approaching wave.
Vancouver Island and the B.C. Coast reside on the “Ring of Fire”, the same Pacific fault zone that makes Japan prone to such devastating earthquakes, and geologists have said it is not a matter of if, but when a large quake will strike our area.
Such a quake cannot be prevented, but communities can plan and prepare to deal with potential loss off services, communication, transportation and supplies.
That goes for individual households as well as governmental agencies.
The North Island was spared — this time. But the risk remains.