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Central Coast
Regional District
February 2nd, 2018
February 2nd, 2018


For Immediate Release

On Tuesday January 23rd 2018 coastal communities in British Columbia tested their Tsunami preparation initiatives in response to a Tsunami Warning originating from a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Alaska (originally reported as magnitude 8.2).

The Tsunami warning impacted all of the communities in the Central Coast which are located in Tsunami Zone B. [Click to see the map: Tsunami Zone B - Central Coast]. Tsunami Warnings are the highest level of tsunami alert and may be issued following a large undersea earthquake which may indicate imminent threat of a tsunami.

“While, for many, an exhausting evening, the CCRD staff and directors are taking a position of gratitude for the learning opportunity the recent Tsunami warning demanded” explains Alison Sayers, CCRD Chair.  

The CCRD operates its emergency response coordination in accordance to the Regional District´s emergency plans. The CCRD´s emergency plans are organized into sections devoted to different types of disasters, including Tsunami. The plans provide a framework of procedures that direct staff and inform decision-makers in coordinating response to identified emergency situations. Each of the communities within the Central Coast Regional District conducted evacuations of low lying areas, as indicated in the emergency plans (developed in 2005 and 2007).

“It is amazing to be part of such a resilient and companionate community. When it counted everyone stepped up to do their part in making sure everyone was safe during an uncertain emergency event” says Sayers. “We are grateful also to the leadership demonstrated by the Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, and Wuikinuxv Nations and representatives from Denny Island and Ocean Falls, in ensuring community members were evacuated from high danger areas.”

The high danger areas in Bella Bella, Denny Island and Ocean Falls are based on the Provincial 20 m elevation guideline for coastal areas. The high danger area in the Bella Coola Valley is based on a 5.2 m tsunami wave as predicted by the 1989 Environment Canada and Ministry of Environment Flood Mapping of the Bella Coola Valley. Like the high danger areas in the outer coast, the moderate danger areas in the Bella Coola Valley are based on the Provincial 20 m elevation guideline for coastal areas.  High tide is used as the base to measure from. [click on the links below to see maps that illustrate the high and moderate danger zones ]:
Bella Coola Tsunami Hazard MapBella Coola Tsunami Hazard Map
Bella Coola Tsunami Hazard Map

Size: 395.09K

Bella Bella Tsunami Hazard MapBella Bella Tsunami Hazard Map
Bella Bella Tsunami Hazard Map

Size: 266.27K

Denny Island Tsunami Hazard MapDenny Island Tsunami Hazard Map
Denny Island Tsunami Hazard Map

Size: 183.89K

Ocean Falls Tsunami Hazard MapOcean Falls Tsunami Hazard Map
Ocean Falls Tsunami Hazard Map

Size: 406.49K


In spite of the Tsunami Warning taking place in the middle of the night while many emergency management officials were on route to the final debrief of the 2017 Provincial Wildfires in Kamloops, each of the communities in the Central Coast saw dedicated people from local agencies coming together to evacuate low lying areas.

“Our first priority in any emergency situation has to be protecting the lives of our first responders and members of our communities.” explained Area E Director Sam Schooner, Chair of the CCRD´s Emergency Program Committee. “While we think of Tsunamis as huge waves, other threats to life can come from even a lower cresting wave. We also have to worry about risk of harm from falling trees or power lines and even the potential for drowning. In the Bella Coola Valley, we had to worry about the possibility of a low lying surge of water up into our river system, where sediment load has changed over the last 10 years.”

The purpose of the CCRD emergency plans are to provide employees, first responders, and decision-makers coordination tools aimed at prioritising saving lives, reducing suffering, and protecting public health when disaster strikes. Other important priorities informing the CCRD´s emergency plans include protection of government infrastructure, property, the environment and economic and social losses.

The CCRD Board of Directors previously set Emergency Management as its top strategic priority for 2018 during their December 2017 public meeting. The 2018 budgeting process is underway and the Board of Directors will be considering resourcing strategies toward improving the Region´s emergency preparedness during the budgeting process to work toward ever improving emergency management capability throughout the inner and outer-coast communities.

“The Tsunami warning was a real wake up call for all of us and we are taking steps to address the communication gaps that were magnified during last week´s evacuations.” emphasised Schooner “It´s also great to hear some community members are taking their individual responsibility seriously with folks gathering to make plans for their neighbourhoods.”

Frontier Resource Management is presenting final drafts of newly revised emergency plans to the CCRD Board of Directors on February 8, 2018 after having consulted with staff and community members in the inner and outer coast, and with members of the newly established Bella Coola Valley Interagency Emergency Committee which the Regional District hopes to replicate in the outer-coast.

“Now that the new plans are close to adoption, the CCRD is anxious to hear about whether we will be awarded the over $750,000 in emergency preparedness funding we´ve supported staff to apply for.” explained Schooner. “New mapping that will be used to update identification of flooding and hazard areas in the Bella Coola valley, including Tsunami risk areas, are some of the many projects we want to move forward.”

Director Schooner emphasised “We´ve been working hard to build relationships within our communities and to create a collaborative environment so we can all work together to keep our communities safer.”

Additional Resources:
In addition, information about the top hazards facing communities in BC is available via Emergency Management BC at:
https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/ or follow them on Twitter at ‎@EmergencyInfoBC
As well as Environment Canada:
For information on coastal earthquake and tsunami events in the wider region, see:
For information on what you and your family can do to prepare for an earthquake, see:

Please note: there are 4 Tsunami Alert Levels
Warning: A “Warning” is the highest level of tsunami alert. Warnings are issued due to the imminent threat of a tsunami from a large undersea earthquake, or following confirmation that a potentially destructive tsunami is underway. They may initially be based only on seismic information as a means of providing the earliest possible alert. Warnings advise that appropriate actions be taken in response to the tsunami threat. Such actions could include the evacuation of low-lying coastal areas.
Advisory: An “Advisory” is the second highest level of tsunami alert. Advisories are issued due to the threat of a tsunami that has the potential to produce strong currents dangerous to those in or near the water. Significant inundation is not expected for areas under an Advisory but coastal zones may be at risk due to strong currents. Appropriate actions by local emergency management personnel may include closing beaches and evacuating harbours and marinas.
Watch: A “Watch” is the third highest level of tsunami alert. Watches are based on seismic information, without confirmation that a destructive tsunami is underway. There is a potential threat to a zone under a tsunami Watch but communities have time to prepare. Emergency management personnel and coastal residents should prepare to take action in case the Watch is upgraded.
Cancellation: A “Cancellation” cancels any previously issued tsunami messages. It is issued when there is no longer observed evidence of tsunami waves at tide gauge stations. Local conditions may differ from those at tide gauge stations and local authorities should determine the safety of coastlines. Once a cancellation has been issued for a tsunami event, EMBC will no longer issue tsunami messages.

How do I sign up for automatic alerts for Tusnamis?

If you would like to receive tsunami email notifications, you can sign up via the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Through this service, you will receive notifications from the National Tsunami Warning Center regarding events impacting British Columbia. However, please note, you will also receive notifications from the following associated agencies: Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, North West Pacific Tsunami Advisory Center and regional tsunami service providers in India and Indonesia.
The National Tsunami Warning Center (@NWS_NTWC), Natural Resources Canada (@CANADAquakes) and the U.S. Geographical Survey (@USGSted) are also on Twitter. For information on signing up for Twitter notifications and other services it provides, click here.

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