When Mayor Carol Hamilton was woken early Tuesday morning by a phone call from the City of Colwood’s emergency co-ordinator, she knew something was wrong.
It’s not often she gets a call from the co-ordinator or runs tsunami drills at 3 a.m. That’s when Hamilton was notified of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake off the Alaskan coast that took place at around 1:30 a.m., and a tsunami warning had been issued for coastal areas of B.C.
Emergency Management B.C. forecasted that tsunami activity could arrive in Greater Victoria at approximately 5:30 a.m.
“That’s significant. Right away, I jumped on to the social media feed to check and see what was coming up,” Hamilton said.
On the West Shore, Colwood Fire Chief John Cassidy said there are five low lying areas in Colwood that could be impacted. Two of those are on the Department of National Defence’s (DND) property, the third is the lower portion of Royal Roads University and the rest are in the Esquimalt Lagoon area.
The warning triggered the evacuation of residents in roughly 25 to 30 homes in the Esquimalt Lagoon area. Emergency crews, along with the West Shore RCMP, went door-to-door at around 3 a.m., asking residents to evacuate.
Those with nowhere to go were directed to a reception centre that was set up by the Colwood and View Royal joint emergency social services team at the West Shore Parks and Recreation’s seniors centre.
#TSUNAMI WARNING CANCELLED - no areas of BC are at risk. Please be aware that waves and strong currents could still be dangerous to those in or near the water.— City of Colwood (@cityofcolwood) January 23, 2018
Shortly before 5 a.m. the tsunami warning was called off.
While a tsunami never materialized, Hamilton said Colwood was well prepared for the event.
“We got to run through a bit of an exercise in precaution, which thankfully turned out to be not needed to the extent we were ready to roll,” she said, adding “we have an excellent emergency preparedness group.”
View Royal Fire Rescue was also on high alert. The department advised roughly 60 homes in low lying areas of View Royal and Esquimalt Nation to evacuate as part of the Town’s emergency plan and based on the information received during the warning.