Ugly weather didn’t stop Ucluelet residents from expanding their tsunami preparedness knowledge on April 15, much to the delight of researchers from the University of Ottawa and Japan’s Waseda University.
The provincial government’s Tsunami Preparedness Week culminated in High Ground Hike events throughout the province and B.C.’s Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma chose Ucluelet’s to attend.
“Communities up and down British Columbia’s Coast are participating in exercises all week to prepare for tsunamis and Ucluelet is one of those communities who is taking it upon themselves to ensure that their community is safe in the event of a tsunami,” Ma told the Westerly News at the event.
“We know that coastal communities are often at risk of a tsunami and the consequences can really be devastating, but by preparing community members to know what to do when a warning is issued, we can really save a lot of lives. I really commend the District of Ucluelet for running this exercise.”
She added she was impressed by what she saw from Ucluelet’s team.
“This community obviously has a very committed team of emergency management professionals who are very committed to their community and the safety of people,” she said. “I think the people of Ucluelet can be very proud and honestly I’m quite grateful to each and every one of the volunteers and staff members who made this happen.”
Saturday began with information booths set up at the Ucluelet Community Centre and surveys dished out to participants before they braved the wet, stormy conditions to hike to high ground at Ucluelet Secondary School.
Ucluelet Fire Chief Rick Geddes told the Westerly he was ecstatic with the hike’s turnout.
“It’s important that people know the hazards of where we live out on the coast here,” Geddes said. “I want to thank everyone for coming out. The response and participation level today was amazing, especially for such an ugly day out there.”
Local mom Rebecca Hurwitz was grateful for the opportunity to update and upgrade her family’s readiness levels.
“It was great to get out and practice our emergency evacuation as a family,” she said. “It’s been a few years since we practiced our evacuation route and as the kids have grown older we realize now we need to think about how to meet up as a family and make sure that everybody is safe.”
Geddes added valuable data was collected by researchers that will help the district improve its emergency and evacuation strategies.
“We have a group from the University of Ottawa here collecting data that’s going to really help us with our evacuation planning. It’s really going to help in prioritizing our evacuation zones and how we maintain organization throughout an evacuation,” he said.
“They’ll be using that data on their end for some research, but they’re also going to share that data with us as a district and that’s really going to be beneficial for everybody and just help us make us more prepared as a community moving forward.”
Anyone looking for information on how to be prepared for a tsunami is encouraged to visit PreparedBC.ca/tsunamis.