Earthquake on top of highway closure a wake up call for Island’s West Coast

“When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared.”

As the West Coast fretted over dwindling supplies and a highway closure blocking delivery trucks from coming in, an earthquake hit near Ucluelet.

“My wife Barb felt a tremor through her whole body, and I felt a shake in the house that I thought was maybe somebody blasting or an explosion,” Ucluelet resident Lance Cole told the Westerly News.

The roughly 4.8 magnitude quake hit Ucluelet at 1:35 p.m. on Jan. 24, according to Earthquakes Canada.

READ MORE: 4.8 earthquake shakes Vancouver Island’s west coast

Eugene Stewart Jr. told the Westerly the shaking he felt was intense and all the pictures and window blinds in his Ty-Histanis home began vibrating.

“I got up, looked outside, didn’t see any big dump trucks going by, that was my first thought,” he said, adding he looked online and discovered it had, in fact, been an earthquake. “It said it was a 4.5 off Ucluelet and I was like, ‘Man, that was intense for a 4.5.’ I wonder what a bigger one is gonna be like.”

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel said he did not feel the quake, but received an immediate call from the district’s Chief Administrative Officer Mark Boysen advising him it had occurred.

“The first sentence that came out of both our lips when we talked, with the highway being down, was ‘Really? Is this happening?’ We were already dealing with one situation that we seemed to be navigating through, so this was a second one,” he said. “There was no tsunami report, so we were able to, with confidence, know that everything was fine.”

READ MORE: Tofino-Ucluelet highway reopens after bridge installed earlier than expected

He added that the Ucluelet Community Centre and connecting Children’s Centre evacuated to high ground.

“They all hiked up to the BMX track immediately. There was a lot of people that felt it and rather than waiting for information, they just headed for high ground and that’s the right thing to do; don’t wait for information, get to high ground,” he said adding it was fortunately a sunny day at the time for kids to enjoy.

“They were all at the BMX track burning off some energy while the instructors were probably quite stressed out. Thankfully there was no aftermath.”

Ucluelet’s fire chief Rick Geddes oversees the community’s emergency management program and told the Westerly he also did not feel the quake, but he heard about it and hopes it reminds residents to be prepared.

“We’re at quite a significant risk compared to other places in the world,” he said. “The big thing is knowing what to do and having a grab and go kit ready, whether it’s an earthquake or a tsunami, being prepared if we have an extended power outage as a result or the road is destroyed. Be prepared to be self sufficient for up to 72 hours.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Tofino hosts fourth annual Emergency Preparedness Fair

Noel agreed.

“We have to realize that we are always at risk of natural disasters or highway closures. When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared. I hope that out of the highway [closure] and that little teaser earthquake that people think about that,” he said.

“What are you going to do for your source of heat? What are you going to do for your groceries? What are you going to do with your neighbours? Are you looking after somebody elderly that you may know? Just really be community minded.”

READ MORE: Ucluelet and Tofino mayors call for “calmness” and “empathy” as highway closure cuts communities off from supplies

READ MORE: USS Wrestling team takes unique detour around highway closure to rock Abbotsford tournament



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Councillor Neil Krog wanted to ask Grand Forks voters at December’s byelection if they’d support a year-round homeless shelter and BC Housing’s proposed supportive housing facility. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
No referendum on homelessness solutions after Grand Forks council meeting

The motion by Councillor Neil Krog failed on a tie vote Monday, Oct. 19

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Ski touring operators are changing how they plan to operate due to the pandemic. Photo: Curtis Cunningham photo
With winter looming, West Kootenay ski tour operators say they’ve adapted

COVID-19 has meant businesses are changing how the upcoming season will run

Advance polls are now open for the 2020 B.C. election. (Black Press File)
BC Votes 2020: Meet your Boundary Similkameen candidates

A round up of candidates’ bios, responses to our questions, and more

Rob Louie has formed a non-profit organization he says will assist band members in legal disputes with their councils. Photo: Submitted
UPDATED: Indigenous legal organization created to help band members keep councils accountable

Rob Louie has created Band Members Alliance and Advocacy Association of Canada

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continued to see the highest numbers of overdoses

Investigators work at the Sagmoen farm in Silver Creek. - Image credit: Observer file photo.
Sex workers allegedly called to farm of Okanagan man convicted of assault, RCMP investigating

Curtis Sagmoen, convicted in relation to assault of sex trade workers, is prohibited from soliciting escorts

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Early voters more likely to favour NDP, but overall B.C. election is tightening: poll

According to Elections BC, 383,477 people cast a ballot during advanced voting days

(Pixabay)
Wave of racist emails ‘unleashed’ on B.C. researchers investigating racism in health care

The team has received close to 600 calls and emails since the investigation started in July

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

Most Read