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Quake might have damaged Comox Valley schools

Comox Valley schools suffered some cosmetic damage after an earthquake during the first week of school.
"We had buildings that did better than others, and it wasn't actually about the age of the building," superintendent Sherry Elwood said during last week's school board meeting. "It wasn't necessarily about the age; it was more about the design and the structure of the building, what building materials were used at the time it was built."
It has been reported that minor damage was found at Miracle Beach Elementary School.
There was some damage, and engineers were brought in right away to look at the district's buildings, explained Elwood.
"Most of it was cosmetic," she said. "Some of it looked to be initially structural but upon closer examination by engineers, most of what we've seen in the last two to three weeks were things that were bulkheads that covered things, and in those days, they used nails instead of screws, and so nails pop or shift."
The 6.4-magnitude earthquake Sept. 9, which had an epicentre south of Port Alice, shook the Comox Valley around 12:41 p.m.
"If there's a silver lining on what happened that particular day, it was that it actually allowed us to do a real drill," said Elwood. "I'm happy to report that in terms of school-by-school response to the earthquake, it proved to us that the drills that we go through and sometimes find onerous or tough to remember the details ... you do it because you think you might need it, well, we needed it that day, and they worked magically.
"Paul Berry, as the district health and safety officer, was extremely pleased. Paul has a higher level of training than most of us around emergencies, and we were very pleased with the response by schools."
They did learn some lessons at each school, explained Elwood.
"We were pleased we learned some things about how to maintain our buildings and how to check our buildings after a quake," she said. "It could have been much worse, and we gladly say it was actually a good experience for us. We also learned a lot about how human beings react to something like that."
writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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