The Vic-Alert automated warning system sent word to thousands of South Island subscribers early Tuesday morning about the potential tsunami hazard. Roughly 6,500 people were signed up for the service before the tsunami warning, and as of mid-morning Tuesday, approximately 23,000 were on board. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Vic-Alert faces tidal wave of registration after tsunami warnings

City of Victoria system is free and provides early warnings of disaster

The fledgling emergency alert system, Vic-Alert, received an unexpected boost in popularity after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake centered 280 km west of Kodiak, Alaska prompted an early morning tsunami alert to be issued Tuesday.

Launched about nine months ago by Emergency Management Victoria, Vic-Alert allows people to register their phone numbers – cell phones or land lines – and email addresses for free to receive warnings, updates and helpful instructions in the event of emergencies that may impact the community.

When the earthquake struck, phones across the city began buzzing with the first tsunami warning issued at 2:43 a.m. The Vic-Alert system sent warnings to everyone registered in the affected areas and offered advice on where to go and what to do.

Although the tsunami alert was ultimately cancelled at 4:40 a.m., the utility of the system resulted in a tidal wave of registrations for the service.

“Yesterday we had a total of about 6,500 people registered with Vic-Alert,” said Tanya Patterson, the City of Victoria’s emergency preparedness co-ordinator. “As of this morning we have 23,000 people registered for the system, so I guess word got out about the service and people have realized it’s a good thing to install on their phones.”

The system is designed to inform people in and around Victoria about events that could potentially impact their health and safety. It will also issue alerts about missing persons with immediate safety or medical concerns, dangerous situations such as armed robberies in progress, and a variety of natural disasters or weather warnings.

While the system is specifically designed to issue warnings about Victoria proper, Patterson said Sidney and North Saanich have their own systems, as do the Gulf Islands. Other municipalities, including Esquimalt and Saanich, are said to be exploring similar systems.

Patterson pointed out that people outside the City of Victoria are able to register for the alerts, but need to be aware that the warnings are geographically specific to Victoria.

The alerts go out regardless of where the person may be at the time, she added. “You don’t have to physically be in Victoria to receive the alert. It goes out to the registered number or email address regardless of where you are.”

In addition to the Vic-Alert system, Emergency Management Victoria provides free, monthly, public information systems at Victoria City Hall and will bring the information sessions to other locations at the request of community organizations.

To register, simply visit https://vic-alert.connectrocket.com and follow the links.

The same site provides a wealth of information on emergency preparedness, including a helpful brochure and a video on what the average person can do to prepare themselves for emergency situations.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Watch for high winds today and tomorrow

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria. According to Environment… Continue reading

Sooke reps have opposing views on CRD chair term lengths

Two Sooke politicians have opposite opinions on whether increasing Capital Regional District… Continue reading

Calling all foodies, seedies and gardeners

Sooke Seedy Saturday on Feb. 24

Cherry blossom map points to where spring has sprung in Victoria

City released a handy guide to find the most beautiful buds

Saanich’s proposed building code changes come under fire

VRBA head says changes to energy efficiency standards will bring up to $100,000 in additional costs

WATCH: Vancouver Island man catches dashcam video of near head-on crash

Video shows oncoming van cross over centre line

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Liberals to dig deeper, aim higher on gender equality in 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget would include measures to boost women in the workforce

Vancouver Island’s Teal Harle finishes fifth in Olympic Men’s Slopestyle skiing

‘I’ve definitely surpassed every expectation I had for the Games’ – Harle

Body of missing skier found

Man’s truck found in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s parking lot covered in ‘several days’ snow’

B.C. VIEWS: Subsidy supercluster settles in B.C.

Ottawa, Victoria add to their overlapping ‘innovation’ budgets

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canada’s first ever men’s ski slopestyle medal

Men’s hockey team beats South Korea and women’s curling reverses losing streak

Most Read