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Alarming earthquake report concerns Strathcona Regional District directors

A recent report from the province’s auditor general that reveals British Columbians are at “significant risk” if the Big One were to occur today, has at least one Strathcona Regional District director concerned.

The report, which was given to the regional district, found that Emergency Management BC is not prepared for a catastrophic earthquake – the agency’s exact task.

Area D Director Brenda Leigh was concerned by the findings of the auditor general and wondered where it would leave the Strathcona Regional District in the event of an emergency.

“I find it very disturbing,” Leigh said at regional board meeting March 27. “I think the SRD is prepared as it can be, but if we can’t rely on phoning up Victoria for assistance because they’re not ready, what would we do? I think we should be writing to them to express our concern.”

What’s arguably the most distressing, is that the auditor general’s office found similar problems with Emergency Management BC 17years ago and yet the agency has not made any significant progress in fixing those issues, which still exist today.

Current Auditor General Russ Jones said part of the problem is that successive B.C. governments have not been allocating sufficient funding to adequately prepare the province for a catastrophic earthquake.

“Emergency Management BC’s current operating budget for emergency activities is approximately the same as it was in 2006,” Jones said in a release. “In addition, EMBC staff is busy with daily emergencies such as floods and fires so catastrophic earthquake planning is done as a side-of-desk activity.”

Jones said the agency should “report publicly on the level of preparedness so British Columbians can understand the extent of their vulnerability and make informed decisions as to their own level of readiness.”

Jones said the best course of action is for people to do all they can, without relying on the government for assistance.

“British Columbians need to take responsibility and prepare for a catastrophic earthquake to protect themselves and their families,” Jones said.

The Strathcona Regional District does run an Emergency Preparedness program which covers the entire region, including Campbell River, and has the capacity to help victims short-term in the event of disaster.

Still, the auditor general’s report was alarming to some on the regional district board, which decided to write a letter Emergency Management BC and to the Minister of Justice regarding the state of catastrophic earthquake readiness within the regional district.

It’s no secret that seismic experts have been predicting a major, destructive earthquake will hit B.C. in the future, although when is hard to predict.

According to the province of B.C., you should be prepared to be on your own without help for 72 hours or more following an earthquake.

It’s recommended to keep the following emergency supplies in a bag at home, in your car, and at work:

 

  • First aid kit

 

  • Shelter-plastic tarp or small tent

 

  • Water-at least four litres per person, per day

 

  • Water purification tablets

 

  • Food-non-perishables such as canned or dehydrated food, dried fruit and canned juices

 

  • Flashlight and spare batteries

 

  • Essential medications

 

  • Toiletry items

 

  • Shoes
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