Tsunami warnings for B.C. coast cancelled after Alaskan quake
Christina Commisso-Georgee, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, January 5, 2013 7:05AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, January 5, 2013 9:03PM EST
A powerful earthquake that struck just west of Alaska overnight sparked tsunami warnings for more than 1,000 kilometres down to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
The 7.5-magnitude quake hit at midnight local time. The alert was cancelled shortly afterward, when no damaging waves were generated.
There was concern for safety, however, in some Alaska and British Columbia coastal communities, where residents headed for higher ground.
The mayor of Queen Charlotte City on Haida Gwaii, B.C. said she awoke from her sleep to the shaking and clattering of her dishes.
“That lasted after I woke up for another half a minute so I knew we had an earthquake and that’s usually followed by a tsunami warning,” Carol Kulesha told CTV News Channel on Saturday morning.
The mayor of the small town said by the time she left her home to help with evacuation efforts, many of her neighbours had already left their residences.
“We set up an (operations) centre. We set up a centre for people to go to if they lived on the docks and needed to move to higher grounds,” said Kulesha.
Officials said in the initial 20 minutes of the quake, which struck about 95 kilometres west of Craig, Alaska, there was some panic. However, the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center later reported that the waves only reached six inches above normal sea level.
The earthquake was widely felt but officials said no damage has been reported.
Marg Schuett, a resident of Stewart, B.C., said her home shook for about 20 seconds.
“I actually thought, with this terrible wind coming toward the front of my house off the ocean, that it was pushing my house over,” she told CTVNews.ca in a telephone interview. “That’s how it felt.”
A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the island of Haida Gwaii in late October and sent hundreds of aftershocks in its wake. Kulesha said residents of the island community were much more prepared for an evacuation this time around.
“I had certainly heard from folks who said they did not have a kit ready to go out the door after the first earthquake,” she said. “The problem was trying to get communication within the community.”
Kulesha said the town has since set up a Facebook page where information about earthquakes and emergency preparedness is posted and updated regularly.
The mayor of Masset, a village on the northern tip of Haida Gwaii, said if an earthquake is strong enough to be felt by residents, the general rule is to evacuate homes.
On Saturday, Andrew Merilees said the early-morning evacuations moved a lot more efficiently compared to the October quake.
“The earthquake in October was a really good test for us and I think a lot of things we put into place after that event made things go a lot smoother this time,” said Merilees, adding that the local hospital was also cleared as a safety measure.
“Anyone who was not prepared had the last couple of months to know what the plan is and where their emergency kit is.”