A Nov. 7 forum will educate people about Prince Rupert emergency response to a tsunami.

Prince Rupert forum aims to prepare people for a major tsunami

An upcoming forum looks to educate people on what to do should "the big one" hit the North Coast.

An upcoming forum looks to educate people on what to do should “the big one” hit the North Coast.

A Nov. 7 tsunami preparedness forum scheduled for Nov. 7 at Northwest Community College will include representatives from Emergency Management B.C., Environment Canada and the City of Prince Rupert providing information on what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

In the last year there have been two tsunami warning triggered by earthquakes — one last October and one in January.  Prince Rupert fire chief Dave McKenzie, the man responsible for Prince Rupert’s emergency plan, said the forum will include a presentation on the basics of tsunamis by a seismic specialist from Emergency Management B.C., as well as information on tsunami notifications from an Environment Canada weather services specialist.

The forum will give insight into emergency response decisions made by the fire chief, including when door-to-door warnings or evacuation notices are mandated. McKenzie said after the tsunami warnings in Prince Rupert, people living near the harbour questioned why emergency response gave door-to-door warnings on Beach Place and Water Street, but didn’t in neighbourhoods such as Atlin or Graham Avenue.

“Would you want to be woken up at 3 a.m. when it’s going to take a 1,000 foot wave to affect you?” he asked.

However, McKenzie notes it isn’t a huge wave that Prince Rupert should worry about.

“We’re not going to see a big wave like in Japan roll in. We’ve got too many islands [surrounding us]. But if there’s an influx of water coming in, everything raises up really slow — and boom it drops. When it drops it drops quick and everything flows out … if you’ve got a harbour full of freighters, one of them might beach on Beach Place. We want to make sure people move in case something like that happens,” he said.

“We know a wave should never affect us, but there’s still water and it needs to go somewhere. What are we going to do when that water comes in and goes away, and what kind of damage will it do. That’s what we’re worried about.”

A question and answer period will wrap up the forum, with McKenzie and Emergency Management B.C.’s northwest regional manager Maurie Hurst fielding people’s questions. The tsunami public education forum will take place in the multipurpose room at Northwest Community College on Thursday, Nov. 7 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The forum is open to everyone from the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District area, including Port Edward.

McKenzie reminds people to have enough water and food to sustain themselves for 72 hours, as well as clothing, cash, a landline telephone and batteries stored in their homes.

“Everybody is forecasting ‘the big one’ is coming … the idea is to be prepared,” McKenzie said.

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