Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In event of an earthquake, grab your phone book!

Prince Rupert City Council once again addressed the issue of the information flow for local residents, when it comes to earthquake and tsunami activity on the North Coast.

With the October Haida Gwaii quake still fresh in many minds and the recent Southeast Alaska quake capturing the attention of some residents (though not all apparently), Council weighed in once again on how local residents could best be prepared should the earth begin to shift once again.

The session began with a review from the City's Financial Officer, filling in for the City Manager over the Civic response to the recent events in the community. Council found it interesting and for some an item of concern, that with the recent tsunami warning of January 5th, many residents on Beach Place had become a tad complacent to the issuance of warnings and such.

So much so, that the Fire Department and RCMP were at one point left to do not much more than collect the names of residents in the home and who their next of kin were.

It was a stark observation for Council that some residents don't seem to be taking the dangers associated with earthquakes and tsunami warnings quite as seriously as one might like.

Council recommended that local residents should consult their phone book for some helpful hints as how best to prepare for any such natural disasters (pages 37 and 38 for those reading along at home) and then discussed further the topic in council chambers.

There were such things as slipping in earthquake information with the upcoming property tax bills, as well as a public version to be posted at the library and other public spaces. Councillor Ashely suggested the idea of a public meeting to bring the community up to speed on what to do.

The prospect of an expanded section in the city's phonebook and improvements to the city's website page on emergency preparedness were also up for discussion around the council table.

(A hint here if we may, the City might wish to update the telephone list from that link above, what with Michael Curnes still listed as a contact person and all that.)

Council also urged the public to look over the Provincial Emergency Management BC Website for helpful suggestions on how to prepare to handle emergency situations.

The City does to its credit, seem to be making better use of social media, twitter was used rather effectively on January 14th when an aftershock rattled the same area of Southeast Alaska as the January 4th quake, which was quick to follow on Monday advising that the event had not generated any tsunami warning.

The topic of warning sirens however didn't make it into the discussion this time around, perhaps the majority of councillors are on the same page as a recent Northern View editorial page piece from the January 9th paper edition (page six) that suggests that warning sirens may cause more panic than provide for a helpful beacon of awareness.

The Northern View was mentioned in the Monday council discussion as well, with a number of Councillors wondering if the local paper might not wish to provide more information for residents on what to do during an earthquake/tsunami situation, as well as to provide some information on what might be best in a home emergency kit.

Council however did have a few thoughts on the topic of the information flow, expressing concern over the local CBC Radio affiliate and it's approach to information delivery in times of civic emergency.

Both Councillors Rice and Thorkelson offered up some thoughts on the level of information, or lack of if you will, provided by the public broadcaster in recent events.

They are not alone in their concern over the role of the CBC when it comes to delivering key information in emergency situations, that issue has also been a rather pressing topic on Haida Gwaii with a number of concerns reviewed there over how best to relay important developments to residents.

QCI Observer-- CBC needs to pull up its socks: QC councillor
QCI Observer-- Slow notification, cell phone coverage concerns Sandspit committee

You can review the council discussion on the Tsunami Warning Response from our City Council Timeline for the January 14th meeting and if you wish you can also examine the video review of it when the council session is posted to the Council archives.

The Tsunami portion of the meeting starts at the 1 hour 12 minute mark and continues on until 1 hour minutes.

The Mayor provided the video content for the CFTK News  with this review of Council's suggestions.

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