Tsunami warnings are wonderful… if you hear them

Prince Rupert needs another shake. In cities and towns across Canada, they can warn you when you’re hungry.

Prince Rupert needs another shake.

In cities and towns across Canada, they can warn you when you’re hungry. But in Prince Rupert they can’t even warn you a tsunami may be on its way.

From Smithers, B.C. to Neepawa, Manitoba, each and every noon hour a siren sounds to tell the townfolk its time to drop their hammers, push away their keyboards or hang up their phones and run for the fridge — it’s time for lunch.

In Prince Rupert, we aren’t even warned it might be time to run for our lives.

On that fateful Saturday evening, the third most massive and powerful earthquake to ever hit B.C. swayed pictures on the wall, ice cubes in drinks and turned a few stomachs.

Thankfully, there was little to no damage other than frayed nerves.

But that’s not all we should be thankful about.

We get a second chance to get something right that should have been done right in the first place.

In several areas of Prince Rupert, there are these blue and white signs showing a tsunami evacuation route.

Why?

Somebody somewhere has decided that maybe, just maybe, Prince Rupert is susceptible to a tsunami.

Moments after the quake, Prince Rupert Emergency Services and the Prince Rupert Port Authority mustered on higher ground at the Emergency Operations Command Centre at City Hall. They quickly blocked off access to low-lying areas and began evacuations including closing down all port operations.

Why?

Well, they think Prince Rupert is susceptible to a tsunami.

There is a little map of the world available to anyone whether they have the Internet or not, showing Prince Rupert as a coastal community. Strangely enough, coastal communities seem to be the most susceptible to tsunamis.

And while too late to help any coastal communities in this province, Emergency Management B.C., did — surprise, surprise ­— finally blurt out a tsunami warning for Prince Rupert.

Shocking decision. After all, it was only the third largest quake ever to hit B.C., but those good folks at EMBC decided that nearly an hour after everyone else in the world had registered the quake, they might just want to warn someone. So they e-mailed and twittered.

In the meantime, a graveyard shift worker  walked out onto 5th Ave. West in Prince Rupert and asked the throng standing in the middle of the street what the hell was going on.

“Earthquake? I was sleeping… didn’t wake me up” he said.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “When the tsunami flows in, the water will wake you up.”

“What tsunami?” he said.

“Saw it online…,” I said. “They’ve issued one for Prince Rupert, but I imagine it would have already been here by now.”

We both stood there watching cars and people walk up and down Second Ave.

Prince Rupert was completely silent.

We both shook our heads.

Prince Rupert needs to give its collective head a shake… get a siren. What good is a tsunami warning if nobody hears about it.

By the way, there’s a siren on eBay for $35.

TIP OF THE TUQUE

Thank you to all the well-wishers who have welcomed me to Prince Rupert. And no, I didn’t pay Donna Eisele to write that wonderful letter to the editor.

Thanks Donna.