B.C. Tsunami

October 30, 2012 by  

B.C. Tsunami, Questions are being raised about the B.C. government’s response to the weekend earthquake off the northwest coast after officials took more than half an hour to issue a tsunami warning.

The 7.7 magnitude quake struck at 8:04 p.m. PT Saturday, eventually triggering tsunami alerts and advisories along the West Coast of Canada and the U.S. and as far away as Hawaii.

Officials with the West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Centre have confirmed emergency officials in B.C. were on a West Coast conference call three minutes after the quake.

U.S. officials sent out their first tsunami bulletin immediately after the quake at 8:13 p.m. and then upgraded it to a tsunami warning for parts of the West Coast including B.C. three minutes later.

But emergency officials in B.C. did not issue any sort of tsunami alert or advisory for another 39 minutes, leaving many civic leaders in B.C. wondering what they were supposed to do.

Emergency Information B.C. issued its first tsunami warning on Twitter at 8:55 p.m. – long after the news stations had already begun reporting on the earthquake and local civic leaders had begun evacuations based on the U.S. alerts.

Chris Duffy, the executive director of operations with Emergency Management B.C., defends the response, saying the public alert is just one element of communications, adding that RCMP and community officials were alerted within minutes.

“Focusing on one element of a continuum of communications and saying this one or that one was slow today is not seeing the bigger picture,” Duffy said.

“The real question here is: ‘Were people aware of the potential threat, did they take appropriate actions?’ How you were notified is not as important as were you notified.”

Duffy says the organization is reviewing all aspects of its response to determine what it can do better in future.

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