WATCH: A massive, $1.2 million earthquake drill is taking place on Vancouver Island to make sure we’re ready for the big one. Tess van Straaten has more on that and the latest earthquake technology.
St. Patrick’s Elementary School in Victoria is getting a multi-million dollar seismic retrofit so it will survive a major earthquake.
“It’s a huge concern so it was very important to do,” says St. Patrick’s principal Deanne Paulson.
The school is also utilizing the latest technology.
It has two underground earthquake sensors, an early warning system that gives the students up to 20 seconds to take cover.
It’s also invested $250,000 in special earthquake-proof desks.
“They’re virtually indestructible,” says Paulson. “They will probably outlast most buildings so there’s a steel frame, a steel floor and handles inside for the children to hold onto should the desk go down floors.”
The students practice drills regularly and say the desks makes them feel much safer.
“I like them because I knew the school wasn’t as earthquake proof as some others schools so I was a little bit worried,” says grade five student Tristan Brulotsawchyn.
“They’re very sturdy and safe so I think they were a good idea,” adds Anna Brulotsawchyn, Tristan’s twin sister
The desks even have their own emergency kits — complete with food, water and survival supplies.
Western Canada’s first, full-scale earthquake and tsunami exercise
To make sure the rest of the province is prepared, Western Canada’s first, full-scale earthquake and tsunami exercise is now underway.
“We’ve learned from other jurisdictions all over the world that you can never be prepared enough,” says Chris Duffy, acting assistant deputy minister of Emergency Management B.C.
The three-day event, called Coastal Response, simulates a destructive 9.0 magnitude quake affecting Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, along with a Tsunami devastating Port Alberni minutes later.
“We’re certainly better prepared today than we were a year ago or five years ago, but we have a ways to go to being more resilient,” Duffy says.
The $1.2 million exercise is happening in conjunction with a similar drill in Washington State and a major military exercise at CFB Esquimalt called ‘Staunch Maple’.
“The contingency plans for Joint Task Force Pacific to support other government departments do need some adjustment and we’re hoping the real test of an exercise can help us to achieve those points,” says Lt. Colonel Kevin Tyler, director of Staunch Maple.
Officials hope the earthquake exercise will raise awareness about being prepared and they say everyone in British Columbia should have an emergency kit and emergency plan.