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After The Big One: What happens next?
We’ve all been told to expect The Big One when it comes to earthquakes, but do you know what the plan is for when it hits? Find out what different levels of government have planned for their response and what you can do in the aftermath of a Monster Quake.Read More
After The Big One: What happens next?
Did you know that more than 1,200 earthquakes are recorded in BC each year? While that number may seem high, the vast majority of these earthquakes are too small to be felt. For those of us living on BC’s coast, it isn’t the frequency of earthquakes we need to worry about, but The Big One, a massive release in tectonic tension that scientists have predicted to be long overdue.
For all we know, The Big One could strike in five years or in five minutes. Whenever it does hit, the earthquake expected to strike the west coast of North America will undoubtedly have a catastrophic impact. Roads will crack, buildings may collapse and all of the infrastructure that we rely on in our day-to-day lives (electricity, plumbing and natural gas) will likely cease to function or be severely degraded. With Metro Vancouver directly in the expected impact zone, the question is, do you know what to expect in the aftermath of The Big One?
While we’ve all been told the basics on what to prepare (food, water, clothes, radios, etc.), many are still unaware of how relief efforts would unfold in the days following a massive earthquake. For example, you may have seen those Disaster Response Route signs on your local highways, but may not be clear on what exactly they mean. During a State of Emergency, members of the public are not permitted to drive on Disaster Response Routes as they are to be kept free for emergency response vehicles.
Currently, the BC Government requires each municipality be responsible for their own emergency preparedness response as per the Local Authority Emergency Management Regulation. In the event of a catastrophic event such as a massive earthquake, the province would declare a state of emergency and assistance would rollout in waves. Initially, communities and neighbourhoods will help one another in the immediate aftermath. Following that, local authorities would implement their individual emergency preparedness plans. Depending on your municipality’s plan, you would likely see local infrastructure such as schools and community centres being used as immediate relief stations. Once the provincial authorities are able to organize and assess the situation, they would then begin coordinating a larger sustained relief front, with assistance from the federal government.
Several municipalities have also set up their own emergency response teams and many have volunteer programs in place. One such program is Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Emergency Assistance Team (NEAT). If a damaging earthquake hits Vancouver, NEAT’s volunteers will assemble and coordinate search and rescue efforts, locating and securing any potential victims, along with the City of Vancouver and other authorities. Vancouver has also designated 25 locations around the city as “Disaster Support Hubs” to serve as public areas for citizens to gather in the aftermath of an earthquake or other natural disaster. The majority of these locations are community centres and a full map can be found on the City of Vancouver’s website.
The Victoria Emergency Management Agency (VEMA) is volunteer-based program founded to help the community when disaster strikes. Similar to NEAT, VEMA will assist local authorities in evacuating displaced residents, maintaining auxiliary communications and assisting in Victoria’s emergency relief efforts. While Vancouver has pre-determined support hubs, the City of Victoria will activate facilities for residents based on the impact and damage to specific areas. These locations will be broadcast by local media in the aftermath of an earthquake, so make sure you have a battery-powered or crank-operated radio ready to go.
While it might make for good television, the last thing anybody wants is for their city to descend into a post-apocalyptic chaos. Learn how you can prepare for The Big One by clicking here, and be sure to familiarize yourself with your municipality’s emergency response plan.