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

 

Just Posted

Letter writer suggests ways residents and the municipality can address the problem of litter along the highway. (Stock photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don’t add to litter problem

Letter writer who picks up litter along Parkway Trail implores Nanaimo to be tidier

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman who was killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Nanaimo artist Melissa Anderson has paintings on display at White Rabbit Coffee Co. for the next month. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo painter showcases coastal Island views in first exhibit in two years

Melissa Anderson presents ‘Seascapes’ oil painting exhibit at White Rabbit Coffee Co.

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Himalayan Life helped finance the construction of Nepal’s Yangri Academic Centre and dormitories after a 2015 earthquake devastated the valley, killing more than 9,000 people. (Screen grab/Peter Schaeublin)
B.C. charity founder pledges to rebuild Nepalese school swept away by flash floods

6 years after a catastrophic earthquake killed more than 9,000 people, Nepal gets hit again

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

Most Read