Ucluelet’s Cedar Rd. Parking Hub emergency warning speaker. Live testing of this speaker and the second one at Amphitrite Point will take place on Wednesday, May 20th commencing at 9:30 a.m., and may last on and off into the early afternoon. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Tsunami siren testing in Ucluelet on Wednesday, May 20 starting at 9:30 a.m.

District siren testing may last on and off until the afternoon

The District of Ucluelet is initiating live testing of the newly installed tsunami warning system on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at about 9:30 a.m.

Currently, warning speakers are located at two towers: one at the Cedar Rd. Parking Hub and one at the Amphitrite Point Parking lot.

“Substantial testing took place just prior to the district hiring me last year. The speakers were tested from multiple sites around town and the public was asked to provide feedback as to how well they could hear the testing. I was able to study the data that was collected and it was decided that the priority for the first two sites (which potentially cover the priority areas) are the two chosen spots,” said Ucluelet’s Fire Chief Rick Geddes.

The [May 20] testing is necessary to ensure all facets of the system are fully operations, reads a statement from the district. Part of this initial testing will include the announcement of a “Tsunami Warning”, please be aware this is only a test, reads the statement.

“The priority areas are the areas of town with the highest population density closest to the water. It’s important to note that the testing may not be heard in all areas of town, and that’s okay,” said Geddes.

“In a real event we want people moving to the high points of town, so if you already live on parts of Peninsula Rd. for example, you most likely do not need to worry about evacuating,” he said.

The warning speakers and control panel cost the district about $40,000, according to Geddes.

“We were able to save quite a bit of money on this project as this is a used system which the City of Port Alberni provided to us since they have upgraded their system,” he said.

In the event of an actual tsunami or other emergency, Fire Chief Rick Geddes is responsible for sounding the alarm. If Geddes is unavailable when disaster strikes, the responsibility falls on CAO Mark Boysen.

Regular monthly testing of the tsunami warning system and mass notification phone alert system will commence in the coming weeks, once this initial system testing is complete, notes the statement from the district. More details of the regular testing will be announced shortly.

“There is an old air raid type siren on the roof of the fire hall that was used in the past. This new system will provide us with the flexibility to transmit live or pre-recorded messages,” notes Geddes.

Residents are encouraged to send feedback to rgeddes@ucluelet.ca.

“We will certainly welcome feedback as this will help with prioritization of the next potential phase of this project,” said Ucluelet’s Fire Chief.


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