Sooke emergency meeting attracts large crowd

More than 50 people at emergency meeting following recent tsunami warning

A wave of concern struck Sooke Region residents last month when a tsunami warning was issued along the B.C. following an earthquake near Alaska.

So, it’s not surprising that more than 50 people turned out last night for an emergency preparedness open house at Sooke Municipal Hall.

Many people were looking to get information on what to do in an emergency. Others were concerned that Sooke Emergency Services and rescue teams weren’t doing enough to notify people in the area about the warning.

Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount started off the meeting letting the public know what the fire rescue team was doing while the warning was in effect.

“We want to instil confidence in the community that we weren’t just sleeping,” Mount said.

He he said there were about 27 volunteers up until about 5 a.m. patrolling the area and notifying people as necessary. At about 4:20 a.m. the fire rescue was given the “all clear” and the warning was cancelled.

“Can you imagine if we would have woken people up and evacuated them if there was no real emergency?” asked Mount. “People will be disgruntled no matter what in cases like this, but what’s important is that we had boots on the ground and we were ready for anything.”

Mount said in the future he would like the fire department to have “better mapping of the area and better wave modelling,” as well as improve their emergency networking technology.

He also said he would like to improve how people are receiving information, and make sure they are getting it from a reliable source, such as directly from the Sooke Fire Rescue Facebook page.

In the second half of the meeting, Richard McLeod, the emergency social services coordinator for Sooke, taught people how to better prepare themselves.

He suggested to always have an emergency “grab and go” bag handy, filled with cash, medications, enough food to last a week, clothes, and toiletries. He also suggested people take photos of everything of value in their home, so that they have proof for insurance if the items get destroyed.

In the case of an emergency, people being evacuated are told to come to Sooke Community Hall where a reception centre will be set up and people can register.

From there, they can go to a group lodging area and will be set up with a small space, a cot and some toiletries and can stay there as necessary. Group lodging areas in Sooke will likely be set up either at Edward Milne Community School or at SEAPARC Leisure Centre.

Emergency preparedness meetings similar to the one held last night are put on approximately every two to three months, but the Sooke Emergency Support Services team holds meetings regarding multiple topics once a month.

McLeod said this was the most people he has seen at this type of meeting in a long time.

“It’s great to see this much involvement, because the more people in the community are educated about what to do in the case of an emergency, the better we will all be prepared,” he said.

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