B.C. earthquake a wake-up call for Vancouver: mayor
Published Sunday, October 28, 2012 4:36PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 28, 2012 6:25PM PDT
It could have happened here. That’s the message Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has for the city’s residents after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit the Haida Gwaii this weekend.
While no major damage was caused by Saturday’s quake, which was considered one of the biggest in Canadian history, and tsunami advisories along the B.C. coast and in Hawaii have been lifted, dozens of aftershocks were still felt throughout B.C.
“Obviously, too close to home,” Robertson told reporters on Sunday. “We are very much worried about a big earthquake here, we’re due for one in Vancouver… a real focus needs to happen for residents and businesses to be ready for the big one.”
Robertson says the city has made a number of preparations, such as putting together a heavy urban search-and-rescue team, training volunteers, and conducting emergency preparedness workshops. However, he acknowledges that more still needs to be done.
Emergency planning coordinator Jackie Kloosterboer stresses the importance of not being complacent about emergency preparedness.
“It comes back to people being prepared,” she said. “You need to know you will be on your own for possibly 72 hours for a week, you need to have emergency supplies in place. If we have damage, store shelves are going to empty very quickly.”
Simon Fraser Earth Sciences Professor John Clague said the earthquake in Haida Gwaii is not an indication that the “Big One” will hit Vancouver soon. Still, an earthquake of 7.7 magnitude would cause extensive damage if it had happened in Vancouver or in Victoria, he said.
“It would have produced long, severe shaking, a lot of structural damage,” said Clague. “Modern buildings would have tolerated it, they’re designed to a very high standard. What would probably suffer would be our older building stocks, which date to a time when we didn’t know about earthquakes as much as we do now.”
Clague said if the Big One hits, Vancouver should expect to see significant physical, psychological and economic impacts. Debris would be strewn on the streets, sewage and water lines would be ruptured, and ports, ferry terminals and highways could be damaged.
“The kind of thing likely to happen is you get a string of aftershocks,” he said. “This is psychologically a killer because people have survived this big jolt and yet these shocks still keep shaking the ground for days afterwards and it’s difficult for people to get back to a normal life regime.”
With files from CTV British Columbia’s Nafeesa Karim