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Not 'The Big One' but Good Practice
Just nine days after British Columbia's province-wide earthquake drill, some along the west coast have had to put practice into practice.
ShakeOut BC taught the community to drop, cover and hold and that's exactly what they did on Haida Gwaii, during saturday night's 7.7 magnitude earthquake.
"The entire place was shaking and it went on for quite a while, so my kids came running from downstairs, my nanny came running out of her room and I yelled for all of them to get under the tabl, so we all just huddled there until it was over," said Heather Adel, Economic Development Officer on Haida Gwaii.
She said they're used to earthquakes, but not like this. The quake, which struck only 70km SSW of Queen Charlotte City, was also felt in Prince Rupert, Quesnel, and Houston B.C.
On Vancouver Island, the most endangered towns were Port Hardy and Port McNeill on the Island's north coast.
Port Hardy was one of four communities to issue evacuation orders.
"We opened our Emergency Operations Centre and evacuated some of the lower areas, like the marina, Stories Beach and a couple of the reserves in the area," explained Port Hardy's Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) coordinator, Bob Hawkins. "We had the fire trucks going around, advising everybody to move to higher ground."
About 150 people sheltered in the Port Hardy Community Centre until, after high tide at 1 a.m., the Tsunami Warning was downgraded to an advisory and the evacuees were allowed to go home.
No tsunami warning or advisory was ever issued for the Comox Valley, Campbell River or the Sunshine Coast, but Comox Valley PEP coordinator Mike Fournier says it was still wise of people in those communities to pay attention.
"It wouldn't take very long, because a tsunami travels at 700 kilometres per hour," Fournier mused, "and sometimes they could be wrong, in saying there shouldn't be much of a wave. People shouldn't take a chance."
A number of small tsunami waves were recorded on the coast; the largest measuring 69cm at Langara Island, at Haida Gwaii's northern tip.
Despite warnings of strong currents and potential waves, there was no noticable tide action in Port Hardy. Still, Hawkins says Saturday night's experience was valuable.
"All of these exercises, drills and events that we have, we learn from and the next one always works a little better," he said, commending the people of Port Hardy. "Thanks for cooperating, and stay tuned!"
Aftershocks measuring 5.8 and 4.8 on the Richter scale have already been recorded. Hawkins says more are possible, and some warnings or evacuation orders could even be re-issued.
While this 7.7 magnitude earthquake was big, it's nothing compared with what is still expected to hit B.C., one day.
"About 700 years ago we had a major earthquake, about a nine on the Richter Scale, that really caused a lot of damage all over the Island," explained Fourner. "They say these things occur every 500 years so we're 200 years overdue. Everyone's hoping it won't happen tomorrow, but it could and that's why we need to be prepared."
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