Tofino has two tsunami sirens in place and is working on securing a third. Locals must be prepared to take care of themselves if these sirens start to wail.

Tofino encourages locals to get prepared and be ready

When disaster strikes, emergency responders will have their hands full so West Coasters must be prepared to look after themselves.

When disaster strikes, emergency responders will have their hands full so West Coasters must be prepared to look after themselves.

Tofino’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers, who handles the district’s emergency services, said district officials go through constant training to keep up to date on what to do in an emergency.

“The other thing we do, which is probably just as important if not more, is make the community aware of personal preparedness,” he said.

“Unless we want to as a community start caching large amounts of food and water and bedding and housing, which costs multiple millions of dollars, then you need to take care of yourself.”

In a disaster event, Tofino community hall will serve as a reception centre but locals shouldn’t necessarily head there and should instead focus on getting north of Industrial way.

“Your first thought should not be to go to the community hall. It should be to get to high ground so get yourself north of Industrial Way but if you have someone else you can stay with in town, go there,” Rodgers said.

“There’s very little resources in terms of things like bedding or food, we may work towards providing a little bit next year but that’s still a ways off yet with part of the problem being how much food do you buy for how long for how many people? It’s not that it can’t be done, that’s something we’re working towards.”

He added if Tofino were to start putting a cache of resources together, it would need to find a place to store it all.

“We’re a small community, so there aren’t a lot of resources in terms of things like blankets or food or even shelter other than the Community Hall so what we try to do is get the message out there that people need to be prepared to take care of themselves for at least three days,” he said.

“Not doing that means you’re going to be leaning on your neighbours and your family members who have prepared. It’s a grim way to look at it but it’s the truth.”

He said it can be challenging to convince locals to be prepared and the district needs to send a clear message.

“If you’re a resident in town and we have a very large earthquake or tsunami there are no resources other than what’s existing in town to help you out so if you’re not prepared yourself, you’re going to be having to rely on your neighbours,” he said.

“There’s no cache of food for you, there’s no blankets available for you, there’s no extra housing available for you and that is the clear message we need to get across to people: you’re on your own and you may be on your own for a while.”

He added Tofino’s emergency procedures must be fluid as the landscape could change in an instant.

“Even if we had all the resources in the world here which, we don’t…the roads are going to be damaged, the trees are going to be down, there’s going to be no power, no water. We’re going to be struggling just to get the basics back working,” he said.

He added resorts should have processes in place for tourists.

Locals are encouraged to check out PreparedBC’s website at www.gov.bc.ca to learn about how to get prepared and be ready.