Officials went door-to-door Tuesday morning evacuating people in certain low-lying areas on the southern Vancouver Island following a tsunami warning.

Dozens gathered atop Mount Tolmie. Others went to reception centres set up by their municipalities. Firefighters, police officers and volunteers were called in to respond to the emergency.

Authorities were concerned about low-lying areas less than four metres above sea level, including the Esquimalt Lagoon and Harbour, the Victoria Harbour and the areas near the Portage Inlet. Cadboro and Cordova Bays in Saanich, Willows Beach in Oak Bay and McNeill Bay were also areas of concern.

In Esquimalt, firefighters used loudspeakers on their trucks to notify neighbourhoods of the need to evacuate.

Officials say people co-operated and everything went swiftly.

“The system worked flawlessly,” said Esquimalt fire chief Chris Jancowski.

In Victoria, a reception centre was opened and emergency crews prepared to go door knocking. The public works yard was also cleared of all critical equipment. But the tsunami warning was cancelled before evacuations began.

“If people needed to be evacuated, they would’ve known it,” said Victoria mayor Lisa Helps. “We weren’t at that point when the tsunami warning was taken down.”

According to Tanya Patterson, Victoria’s emergency program coordinator, the tsunami would have appeared as a slow influx of water between 1.5 and 3 metres high, not a large wave like the one seen in Japan years ago.

 

Calvin To