Disaster debriefing wanted

Prince Rupert City Council wants a debriefing session for the entire community around tsunamis and earthquakes in light of the recent disaster in Japan.

  • Mar. 15, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Prince Rupert City Council wants a debriefing session for the entire community around tsunamis and earthquakes in light of the recent disaster in Japan.

“Right now we are still hearing in the news about the devastating earthquake in Japan and I know for our small part of that on Thursday night that meant the Tsunami warning extended into the early morning,” Gordon-Payne said.

“As these events are occurring more and more frequently, I’m wondering if we could have a debriefing and talk about what that looked like on Thursday night. What went well, what we might be able to do with many of our community partners,” she said.

Since Friday morning, Gordon-Payne has received several phone calls or had people come up to her asking about a call-in number or somewhere on the internet where people could quickly check what the Tsunami meant for them in Prince Rupert. “For me as a Northern Health representative, I would welcome some kind of meeting,” she said.

According to City Manager Gordon Howie staff will be having a debriefing and could expand it to a session with the community. “There are a couple of communities taking advantage of this, if I could use those words, with the awareness that’s out there now, to hold workshops to prepare us average citizens on how to prepare, so we might be able to combine those two,” he suggested.

Gordon-Payne said her intent is to use the opportunity for the benefit of the entire community. “I know on Vancouver Island schools were cancelled in some areas and on Haida Gwaii they certainly had to go to a certain extent into some communities over there that are closer to sea level. I think the more we can take this as a learning opportunity the better.”

Councillor Anna Ashley agreed with Gordon-Payne’s request and said she’d like the discussion to include earthquakes as well as tsunamis. “We know we live in an earthquake zone so it would be nice to combine those two,” Ashley said.

Mayor Jack Mussallem told council he was awoken at 2:13 a.m. on Friday morning and advised that emergency services in Prince Rupert were responding to the possibility of a tsunami taking place on the North Coast. “The fire chief, deputy fire chief and fire rescue department were mobilizing and the City Manager was aware of the event and the Prince Rupert Port Authority was already in contact with mariners and their customers. Implementing other emergency services such as housing and evacuating areas had been a consideration,” he explained. It was believed a tidal surge for Prince Rupert would be evident at the top of a tide and Mussallem said it did come, was measurable, but minimal and there was no resulting damage.

The mayor also reminded everyone that Prince Rupert is a sister city to Owase, Japan and directed staff to send a letter of inquiry and concern on behalf of council and residents. “They are located on the east side of Japan south of Tokyo on the Pacific Ocean and our hope is that they did not suffer severe damage and loss of life,” Mussallem said.