Be prepared for the next emergency, says local MLA

It would be cliché to call the events of last week a wake-up call, but that’s exactly what they were.

Dear Editor,

It would be cliché to call the events of last week a wake-up call, but that’s exactly what they were.

On Jan. 23, 2018, at 1:32 a.m. – as many were asleep – a 7.9-magnitude earthquake rattled the Earth’s crust, 25 kilometres deep, 280 kilometres southeast and off the coast of Kodiak City, Alaska.

At 1:38 a.m., the U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center notified Emergency Management BC (EMBC) that a series of tsunami waves could be heading south to our shores.

At 1:51 a.m., EMBC alerted local governments, emergency responders and media from coastal communities, via the Provincial Emergency Notification System and Emergency Info BC. At 2:15 a.m., a broadcast-interrupting message was sent to the public-alerting program Alert Ready, while several communities along the coast activated their emergency plans and evacuated those at risk.

By 4 a.m., we were increasingly confident that a major tsunami was not imminent. Communities on Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island had already registered a series of small waves. Seismologists at Natural Resources Canada noted that the Kodiak earthquake was a “strike slip” earthquake. It didn’t produce a tsunami because the plates slip sideways past each other, as opposed to vertically.

At 4:12 a.m., authorities cancelled the tsunami warning for the B.C. coast.

We had come so, so close. It revealed to us that our systems do work, and in some ways, it was the ultimate training exercise. Communities up and down the coast put their emergency plans to an early-morning test, and by many accounts, they were successful.

While EMBC is tasked with co-ordinating emergency mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery at the provincial level, local governments inform the public of emergencies and evacuations.

This may soon change. As of April 2018, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will mandate that all wireless providers must be able to relay public-safety notifications from alerting authorities to Canadians via the Alert Ready system. This means that anyone with a long-term evolution (LTE) phone that is within range of an LTE cell tower will be able receive Alert Ready messages. Tsunami alerts are among the many early messages that can be transmitted through the new system.

It will take time to work out the bugs, but this new regulatory requirement will go a long way toward ensuring public safety by expanding the reach of regional alerting systems.

In the meantime, EMBC has begun a review of the response to this event. What worked well? How can we improve?

We will be taking a detailed look at the ways we work in partnership with local authorities to keep British Columbians informed and safe. We’re committed to exploring all opportunities to enhance our emergency preparedness.

While the Province carries out this review, I urge all British Columbians – not just those who live along the coastline – to consider their level of readiness. Does your household have an emergency plan? Have you assembled an emergency kit? Do you know your community’s emergency plan? How will they issue alerts?

Let’s not be complacent in our response to this warning. We all have a role to play. For tips on how to step up your emergency preparedness, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/PreparedBC

Sincerely,

Jennifer Rice

North Coast MLA

Parliamentary Secretary, Emergency Preparedness

Just Posted

B.C. Family Day to move to third week in February next year

Premier John Horgan said the move is to better align the holiday with businesses and families

B.C. Health Minister announces plan for new hospital in Terrace

“This means more beds, a level three trauma centre, better surgery and better care,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

B.C. to increase minimum wage to $15.20/hour in 2021

Premier John Horgan says next increase will come in June

$2.5M project underway at BC Ferries terminal in Bella Coola

Construction has started in the $2.5M project to modify the berth at Bella Coola

Winter storm warning issued for the B.C. Interior

Upwards of 50 centimetres of snow could fall over the next two days

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

VIDEO: Protesters rally for affordable housing ahead of B.C. budget

Residents call on province to keep locals housed

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Liberals to dig deeper, aim higher on gender equality in 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget would include measures to boost women in the workforce

Body of missing skier found

Man’s truck found in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s parking lot covered in ‘several days’ snow’

B.C. VIEWS: Subsidy supercluster settles in B.C.

Ottawa, Victoria add to their overlapping ‘innovation’ budgets

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canada’s first ever men’s ski slopestyle medal

Men’s hockey team beats South Korea and women’s curling reverses losing streak

Most Read