The aftermath of an earthquake that struck in Christchurch

The aftermath of an earthquake that struck in Christchurch

Earthquakes abroad provide locals with preparedness training

Saanich, Victoria send emergency co-ordinators to New Zealand following devastating earthquake

One in three buildings downtown will have to be torn down – if they haven’t already fallen. The military monitors access in and out of the city at manned checkpoints for safety and security reasons. The death toll continues to rise as more bodies are found buried in the rubble. And life must go on.

That’s the reality facing residents of Christchurch, New Zealand, where three weeks ago a devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit the city. It’s also a very possible reality facing Greater Victoria residents when – eventually – “the big one” hits strikes the West Coast.

“This is one of our worst case scenarios,” said Brock Henson, with the Saanich Emergency Program, on the phone from Christchurch. A quake similar in scope – a shallow crustal earthquake epicentred within a couple kilometres of of downtown – would result in a nearly identical disaster as that facing New Zealand.

Henson and Rob Johns, emergency co-ordinator with the City of Victoria, spent last week working in an emergency operations centre (EOC) in Christchurch helping with response and recovery efforts.

The intention, apart from assisting their Kiwi counterparts, is to learn how the relief efforts unfolded, under a similar disaster response system, and see where improvements can be made to our own preparations.

Last September, Henson was in Christchurch to learn from the aftermath of another quake, and came home with lessons to be applied here. Two trips in six months provides good insight into bettering our disaster response plans.

“Relationships are key,” he said. “Engineers are absolutely the first responders in this context. They need to assess what’s safe, unsafe, what needs to come down. That relationship we certainly need to work on.”

He also said that the relationship with all levels of government needs to be strengthened because, in a disaster, everyone’s scrambling and that order needs to be in place.

“They now have an integrated EOC (in Christchurch) and that was not by design. It’s out of need because it became obvious that these people can’t be dealing with each other over the phone and via e-mail. They need to be in the same place making decisions together,” he said.

In New Zealand, the makeshift EOC is in the Christchurch Art Gallery – built to withstand a massive earthquake.

Though an EOC is portable and can be set-up wherever, the basement of the Saanich fire hall is prepared to be the operations centre.

“That being said, as they have learned here in New Zealand, it is very difficult to predict what buildings will suffer the most damage,” Henson said.

George Spence, professor in the school of earth and ocean sciences at the University of Victoria, says based on fault lines and tectonic plate movement, an earthquake like that which occurred in Christchurch earthquake is something we can expect here.

“It’s a more a shallow earthquake. It’s within or on Vancouver Island itself. It’s not caused by the ocean plates, but a fault on the island,” he said. “The one we have to worry about is this one in the continent itself.”

The 8.9-magnitude quake that struck Japan Thursdsay was the result of an ocean plate sliding under a continental plate. That result is similar to the “big one” that is expected to occur sometime in the next 500 years, hitting the West Coast.

“The nature of (the Japanese) earthquake … is similar to what is expected here,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

Henson reminds people to take the time and be prepared. Earthquake insurance and an emergency preparedness kit (with items such as a few days worth of food and water per person, money, a battery-powered radio, flashlight, first-aid supplies, toiletries, blankets and clothing) are crucial to have ready in the event of a disaster.

For more information on how to prepare yourself for an earthquake, visit www.pep.bc.ca.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read