Tsunami warning on Vancouver Island sparks concern over preparedness

Tsunami warning on Vancouver Island sparks concern over preparedness

WATCH: Tuesday’s tsunami warning has sparked concern among some over preparedness on Vancouver Island. Calvin To reports.

On Tuesday morning around 3 a.m., residents in Port Alberni and Tofino were awoken by sirens after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska.

Many on southern Vancouver Island, however, slept through the event.

Dr. Robin Cox, who teaches a master’s program in disaster and emergency management at Royal Roads University, says parts of Victoria might benefit from sirens.

“We have many examples in other parts of the province and in the world where sirens are used really effectively to warn people. They have to be accompanied by education and awareness campaigns so people understand what the sirens are for and what to do in response to them,” Cox said.

She adds that people should take this incident as a lesson to prepare for emergencies.

“That includes having emergency kits, having a plan, knowing where to evacuate to, and knowing what sort of risk areas they’re in,” Cox said.

Dr. Tania Insua is one of many scientists working on a new tsunami model that would help authorities understand how areas could be impacted should an emergency occur.

Insua says some areas such as Tofino could have as little as 20 minutes of warning.

Officials have said that a tsunami on the south island would not be a large wave such as the one seen in Japan in 2011. Instead, it would come in the form of a small wave, likely up to three or four metres high.

Still, Insua says even a small wave less than a metre in height could cause significant damage.

In 1964, an earthquake triggered six waves that devastated Port Alberni, beginning at midnight on March 28 and lasting until after 6 a.m.

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