Submitted by the Queen Charlotte Emergency Preparedness Committee–On January 12, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake in Japan triggered the BC Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) to issue a tsunami watch to the Islands. The QC Emergency Preparedness Committee was alerted via email, fax and telephone, and available members were put on stand-by to initiate an evacuation of all residents living in the tsunami evacuation zone, should the watch be upgraded to a warning. Fortunately, the watch was cancelled, and so residents living within 6 metres above the high water mark were spared a late-night awakening and a hasty retreat up to higher ground.
At the Wellness Conference the following day, many residents curiously asked committee members, ” So, what would have happened if we did have to evacuate?” Are you curious too? If so, come to the E.A. Ross Room in the community hall at 7:30 ompm on Tuesday, January 30. Committee members will do a short presentation on evacuation and other emergency plans for the community. They will also discuss awareness and education programs that are being planned to encourage residents to do their part in preparing for emergencies.
In addition to this presentation, we are fortunate to have three emergency preparedness experts join us to share their knowledge. Ms Kelli Kryzanowski is the Manager for Integrated Preparedness with PEP in Victoria, and she will provide a brief presentation on tsunami preparedness in BC. We’ll then hear from Mr. Peter Anderson, Director of the Telematics Research Lab and Associate Professor of Communication at Simon Fraser University. He has an international background in research and teaching in the fields of telecommunications, media, information systems and communication policy. During the past twenty years, Mr. Anderson has participated in the design and implementation of electronic communication and information systems for disaster management in collaboration with the United Nations, NATO, scientific, government and non-government disaster management organizations and representatives. In 2005, he travelled to Sri Lanka during the immediate aftermath of the tsunami tragedy assist in the drafting of a concept paper for a new national multi-hazard warning system for Sri Lanka. He is now working in Sri Lanka on the design and implementation of a “last mile” hazard information dissemination system. He is also collaborating with the BC government, federal agencies and coastal communities on new methods for improving tsunami warning along the Pacific coast. The QC Emergency Preparedness Committee is considering installation of a warning system in coordination with Skidegate, and thus Mr. Anderson’s presentation will go a long way to educate everyone on the value and the challenges associated with setting up such a system.
Ms Maurie Hurst, Manager of the Northwest Regional Office of PEP, will also attend, and will be able to explain how her office would support us during emergencies that overwhelm our local response capabilities.
There will be ample time for questions, and the presentations from these experts will surely spark some lively discussions on emergency preparedness for Queen Charlotte as well and the Islands in general.
Everyone’s welcome, but Queen Charlotte residents are particularly encouraged to come and share their views on emergency preparedness in our community.
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