B.C. needs more natural disaster preparation: expert
One year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami killed almost 20,000 people and left about 300,000 homeless in Japan's Tohoku region, one expert says B.C. is not doing enough to prepare for its own natural disasters.
Dr. David Edgington, a geography professor at the University of British Columbia, visited the Sanriku coast where the tsunami hit last year to study what happened and how local authorities responded. Now he's both disappointed and concerned Japan's disaster didn't inspire radical changes in B.C. where similar risks exist.
"It's a question of priorities. We should be doing more here," Edgington said. "Here in British Columbia we have vulnerability because of the great Cascadia Fault Line just off our west coast."
Edgington recalls a large earthquake that took place in San Francisco in 1989 had more of an effect on proactive disaster management.
"That was kind of a wake-up call for us here in the Lower Mainland. More budgets were set aside for strengthening public infrastructure, bridges, schools, my own university and so on. And I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been a similar wake-up call because of the crisis of 3/11 in Japan," he said.
The province's emergency agency says while it's made few changes to what it calls a robust system, it has beefed up the communication side as a result of the Japanese disaster.
"The public requires very rapid information from a credible source, so we have an online communications team that have a blog at EmergencyInfoBC where they're able to rapidly update emerging and imminent disaster information," said Kelly Kryzanowski of Emergency Management BC.
That's not enough for Edgington, who says earthquakes are inevitable and the province's level of precaution leaves its woefully unprepared for such a disaster.
"I would like to see more done before a crisis evolves here rather than afterwards," Edgington said.
He's calling for more money and planning.
According to Edgington, the last major tsunami to hit B.C. was in the year 1700 and it wiped out small villages on Vancouver Island.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Penny Daflos