Town of View Royal Tsunami Q and A
In the early morning hours of January 23, 2018 a Tsunami warning was issued to the west coast of B.C., including the Town of View Royal.
The warning was subsequently cancelled, but the Towns Fire Department and Emergency Management took action by alerting residents in low lying areas and setting up a reception centre for potential evacuees from Colwood and View Royal before the cancellation. We took the warning seriously however deemed the risk to be low as this was not a Tsunami generated by a local (felt) earthquake.
At that time concerned residents posed a number of questions in relation to the tsunami, and these are answered below.
- Why wasn’t I notified?
Only residents within the identified tsunami planning areas will be evacuated via door-to-door notification due to a tsunami warning. If you are not in a tsunami planning area you will not be notified.
If you do live in an identified planning area, you weren’t notified because the tsunami warning was cancelled before the evacuation process was completed.
You can find out if your property is located is in a tsunami planning area here. Lists are posted in the lobby.
Note* A STRONG (60+ sec) Earthquake is our best warning of a tsunami that may put some VR homes at risk. Distant tsunamis from unfelt earthquakes are less of a risk as the wave height will be much less. For example the 1964 Alaska 9.2M earthquake generated a 4.8ft max wave in Victoria. A 9.0M Cascadia EQ 200km off the coast of Vancouver Island is modelled to generate an 8.9 ft. wave in Esquimalt harbor/Portage inlet.
- Does View Royal have a notification system like Vic Alert?
Some residents received notifications from the City of Victoria because they signed up for Vic Alert. You do not have to be a resident of Victoria to sign up for these notifications, but the messaging is specific to the City of Victoria. Each local authority is responsible for public messaging and instructions may not be the same for each.
Currently View Royal does not have a telephone/text mass notification system. As per our emergency plan, evacuations will be conducted on a door-to-door basis to ensure residents have been notified. However, based on public demand as a result of the January 23, 2018 event, the Town has hastened its pursuit of an appropriate notification system similar to Victoria’s or Sidney’s in partnership with Colwood and possibly Langford. Please note the systems used by other municipalities are relatively new, therefore last year, View Royal and Colwood Emergency Management opted to wait for more data on the performance of these notification systems before committing several thousand dollars a year for the service. Until further notice, in the event of an emergency, please check the View Royal social media channels for emergency instructions specific to View Royal (@VRFD and @TownofViewRoyal).
- Where do I go if I’m evacuated?
You will be directed to a reception centre if you are evacuated and need a safe place to go. The Town will identify the location of the centre based on a number of factors including the type, time, location, and size of the event. The Town has identified a number of facilities that may be used for this purpose. We do not have a set “muster point” or “meeting point” because there is a possibility a particular facility may be unsafe or inaccessible following an emergency. Please check our social media channels for instructions. Evacuation staff will also provide this information if you are notified.
- What does it mean to go to “Higher Ground?”
Based on regional modelling, higher ground is considered four metres or 13 feet above sea level in most of the Capital Region. Please review CRD information on this topic: “Modelling of Potential Tsunami Inundation Limits and Run-Up Project” and the CRD Natural Areas Atlas using contour layers to see where your home is in relation to “higher ground” (4m)
- Why didn’t I hear the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt sirens?
The sirens are property of the Department of National Defense and the Town has no authority or jurisdiction to activate them. Local authorities received information from Emergency Management BC to begin undertaking evacuations of low lying areas and View Royal did so until the warning was cancelled. CFB Esquimalt posted a response to this question on January 23, 2018 via Facebook:
“In close consultation with Emergency Management BC along with data gathered from other sources such as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it was assessed that the threat to Victoria was not imminent and that continued monitoring of effects farther north up the coast would give us ample time to sound the alarm if necessary.”
It is important to note that the sirens are intended for base personnel ONLY and not Town residents. They are also used for ANY emergency on the base, not just a tsunami. Therefore, a siren does not mean you need to evacuate, it may mean that you need to shelter in place in your home or it may not impact the Town at all. We do benefit from the sirens by knowing something is happening, but it is important to check what type of emergency is occurring and what actions to take.
- Where can I go for more information?
- Provincial information
- Regional Information
- CFB information
- Tsunami information
- Earthquake information
View Royal Emergency Management regularly hosts free information sessions on topics related to emergency preparedness. We are also available by request to present for strata’s and neighbourhoods. Check our websites, social media and the Towns Newsletter for dates and times.