The Strathcona Regional District and local emergency services organizations are once again encouraging the community to participate in our annual reminder that we live in an active fault zone and below a series of dams holding back a lot of water.
“There’s a risk of failure at the John Hart and Strathcona dams after a major earthquake, and that could mean flooding in low-lying areas, including the downtown area,” says Stephen Watson of BC Hydro. “BC Hydro has plans to seismically upgrade these dams, but community members should be prepared to get out of the potential flood zone after an earthquake.”
“The community exercise will encourage residents to take action to help themselves,” says Shaun Koopman, protective services coordinator with the Strathcona Regional District. “People need to know whether they can get outside the flood zone after the shaking stops. Get ready to practise your evacuation plan so that you know what will work and what you need to change to keep yourself safe in the event of a major earthquake.”
The purpose of the Oct. 18 exercise, Koopman says is to create awareness about the flood zone and evacuation routes, test your evacuation actions – including planned routes – and time how long it takes to get outside the flood zone following a major earthquake.
“Depending how close people are to the river and how far upstream, they will have between 30 and 60 minutes to get outside the flood zone once the shaking stops,” Koopman says. “The real question is can you get yourself to safe, high ground fast enough? To be prepared, we want to test that.”
So, to test that, Koopman is asking for people to set an alarm for 10:18 a.m. next Thursday. When the alarm goes off, drop, cover and hold on under a desk or table for two minutes – the anticipated minimum time shaking would last during a major earthquake.
Then, at 10:20 a.m., after the “shaking” stops, count to 60, then begin evacuation.
At 10:24 a.m., evacuate to the nearest designated exercise checkpoint on foot or by bicycle. Register at the checkpoint and return to your original location.
Five exercise checkpoints will be set up outside the flood zone until 11:24 a.m.
• Maritime Heritage Centre
• City Hall
• École-Phoenix Middle School
• Woodburn and Spring roads intersection
• 9th Avenue & Ironwood intersection
“It’s important for people to know that these checkpoints would not be setup following a real earthquake. These locations were chosen for this exercise to illustrate the perimeter of the flood zone and as safe locations for people to gather away from busy traffic,” Koopman says, reminding people to please not enter the facilities – especially École Phoenix and the Maritime Heritage Centre – as they will be conducting normal business that day. “The checkpoints will be set up outside,” Koopman says.
People who are in the flood zone at the time of the event and participate in the exercise by evacuating the area on foot or by bicycle can also have their name entered to win an emergency preparedness prize when they register at a checkpoint.
For more information, contact Koopman directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 250-830-6702.