Deputy Fire Chief Darren Hughes and Emergency Program manager Eileen Grant share tips about preparing for an emergency. (Oak Bay News file photo)

Oak Bay reception centre at the ready for tsunami warning this morning

Local officials hold off on evacuation; warning ended shortly after 4 a.m.

Oak Bay emergency protocol fared well during a tsunami warning issued early this morning for the entire B.C. coast, says Oak Bay Fire Chief Dave Cockle.

The National Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami warning at 1:35 a.m. after an earthquake 279 kilometres off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska. It was originally listed at a magnitude of 8.2, but was revised to 7.9. The tsunami warning was cancelled just after 4 a.m.

The National Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami warning at 1:35 a.m. after an earthquake 279 kilometres off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska. It was originally listed at a magnitude of 8.2, but was revised to 7.9. The tsunami warning was cancelled just after 4 a.m.

RELATED: Tsunami warning ended for Greater Victoria

RELATED:Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Cockle, also the community’s emergency coordinator, was notified immediately at home and got on the computer to source information to make key decisions. That included contacting Eileen Grant, manager of emergency programs, to set up a Level 1 team and reception centre at Oak Bay Recreation Centre.

“Those parts of the plan went very well,” said Cockle. Two residents showed at the reception centre and another two behind municipal hall. “The nice thing was they all had kits,” he added.

Based on the information available, Oak Bay chose not to evacuate its two low-lying areas McNeill Bay and near Willows Beach.

“We were not receiving any reports of damage along the coast from the earthquake. The information I was getting … was that there didn’t seem to be anything happening. Even in Kodak itself they weren’t reporting immediate damage,” Cockle said.

Oak Bay did start staging evacuation teams of police and fire and had them hold and wait. In the case of evacuation, firefighters, police and volunteers would go door to door and run announcements in the street.

“You make decisions based on all of the information you’re receiving,” Cockle said. “The other piece we looked at was when the earthquake occurred is where our tides were.”

Around 5 a.m. roughly the time high water was expected to hit the Island, Oak Bay would have had 6 foot tides with a .3 metre increase expected.

Oak Bay Emergency Program supports, during its education sessions, moving about two blocks to high ground. For example those in McNeill Bay could head for Central Avenue for safety.

“We do have plans in there for evacuation, we also have plans for warning which includes going through the street with fire trucks and police cars and using the PA to move people out. We start with the people who are immediately impacted and move our way back,” Cockle said.

RELATED: Sirens don’t sing in tsunami warning for Esquimalt

RELATED: Vic-Alert faces tidal wave of registration after tsunami warnings

That said, emergency services are always always looking for new methods of alerting. Oak Bay is also montioring the Vic-Alert program that did rouse many in the region, to see if it’s applicable to Oak Bay. The best, Cockle said, would be a smart phone app.

“That future is coming, I don’t think it’s too far down the road based on the technology that’s out there,” he said.

Oak Bay Emergency Program has a Disaster Recovery information session slated for Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. at Monterey Recreation Centre. All OBEP workshops and events are free, but organizers recommend registering to guarantee a seat. Call 250-592-9121 or email obep@oakbay.ca to register.


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

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