Vancouver Island earthquake should serve as a wake-up call

Local emergency preparedness expert says most Islanders not ready for ‘the Big One’

Comox Valley Ground SAR information officer Paul Berry says the majority of Islanders are ill-prepared for  the ramifications of a major earthquake.

Comox Valley Ground SAR information officer Paul Berry says the majority of Islanders are ill-prepared for the ramifications of a major earthquake.

Terry Farrell

Record staff

Did you feel it?

That was the most oft-asked question of the week from Wednesday evening onward, after Vancouver Island shook from the effects of a 6.6-magnitude earthquake.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the epicentre of the 8:10 p.m. quake was 94 kilometres south of Port Hardy, off the west coast of Vancouver Island, at a depth of approximately 11 km.

There were at least two aftershocks in the hours that followed.

Social media sites were abuzz almost immediately, with photos and videos of swinging chandeliers and rippling drapes. But no major damage was reported.

Paul Berry, District Principal of Health and Safety for the Comox Valley School District and information officer for Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue, said it could have been much worse.

“First and foremost, Wednesday night was a reminder to everyone that we live in an earthquake zone,” he said. “This was actually a fairly significant quake.

“There certainly have been larger. In 1946 there was an earthquake (7.3 magnitude) in the Valley that did some pretty significant damage. But the difference in the scale when you go from 6.6 to 7, it’s extremely significant. And then of course the type of quake, the depth of the quake, all of that makes a difference.”

Even at the same measurement, a 6.6-magnitude earthquake can be a lot more severe than the one felt Wednesday, depending on depth, lateral versus upthrust movement of the fault, distance from the epicentre, the shape or existence of a ground wave, among other factors.

In short, the Island and its residents got off lucky.

Vancouver Island earthquakes are nothing new. Nor are they rare. There are earthquakes virtually every day along the coast of B.C., although the majority of them are so small, they are only noticeable with seismic equipment. But when one like last week’s rolls along, it gets people talking.

Berry would like to see more than talk.

“A quake of this scale tends to be a reminder to people that ‘hmmm, maybe there’s something I need to do to be better prepared than I am.’ But likely, three weeks down the line, this episode will be forgotten and people will be no further ahead,” he said.

“That tends to be the pattern.”

Berry said it doesn’t take much to be prepared, and a little preparation can go a long way towards surviving a major catastrophe.

“What we would hope is that each and every home would take some time to put together some items so they would be self-sufficient at their homes for at least two to three days, even longer,” he said.

The Comox Valley Emergency Program website (comoxvalleyemergencyprogram.com) has a wealth of information on earthquake preparedness.

“Your basics – food, water, a tent for shelter and the ability to cook something, because you might not be able to stay in your home and you might not be able to travel on the roads, should be part of your kit,” said Berry. “Access to medication that people might need (i.e. insulin, asthma inhalers), those are things people don’t think about but it’s possible you wouldn’t have access to things like that for many days.”

Berry added that the 72-hour window is a best-case scenario. It’s advisable to be prepared for a much longer period before help arrives; and don’t be lulled into a false sense of security based upon location.

“One of the things that people take for granted here in the Comox Valley – they look at the fact that we have the military base here and if something goes wrong, we’re OK. They are right here,” he said. “But that’s false. They (military) are going to go where they are asked to go – to the major population centres. They are going to be called to the Lower Mainland; Victoria maybe.”

Berry said to use Wednesday’s wake-up call as just that. Don’t just talk about it; do something about it.

“There really is no excuse not to be prepared. It’s just a matter of doing it, and sitting down as a family and talk the plan through – what you need, where you would put it.”

editor@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Tentative COVID-19 vaccine site chosen in the Comox Valley

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 mass immunization plan

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Comox Valley RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

A Coast Range Cannabis store has been approved for the Crown Isle Shopping Centre in Courtenay. Photo submitted
Courtenay council approves seventh cannabis retailer

Coast Range Cannabis to open second store in the Comox Valley

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Preliminary design for a new composting facility at the Campbell River Waste Management Centre is ready to share with the public. Photo supplied
Facility to enable curbside organics collection in Comox Valley, Campbell River

The preliminary design for a new composting facility being built at the… Continue reading

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is forwarding a motion on illegal dumping to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ upcoming annual general meeting. (Kane Blake photo)
Island communities asked to join forces in seeking help fighting illegal dumping

RDN resolution to be forwarded to Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Protesters gather at Victoria courthouse to oppose Port Renfrew logging

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

John Hordyk said it isn’t fair to just look at COVID-19 deaths as many survivors are experiencing long-term impacts, himself included. (Photo by Rachel Muise)
Not getting better: Revelstoke man diagnosed with post-COVID-19 syndrome

‘I hope the damage isn’t long term, but it could be permanent’

Mid day at the Vancouver Port Intersection blockade on March 3, organized by the Braided Warriors. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
Anti-pipeline blockade at Vancouver intersection broken up by police

Demonstraters were demanding the release of a fellow anti-TMX protester

One person is dead after a camper van caught fire Thursday morning in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
One person dead after vehicle fire in Victoria park

Investigation into Beacon Hill Park death in early stages

Most Read