What would happen if a tsunami hit BC’s Sunshine Coast?


What would happen if the BC Sunshine Coast was struck by a tsunami? According to the National Weather Service,
there are an average of two tsunamis each year that cause damage near their source. This means that unlike hurricanes, tornadoes,
or forest fires, tsunamis are a much rarer occurrence. This fact alone means the risk of a tsunami
hitting the Sunshine Coast is very low. But what if the worst did come to happen and we
were one of the two unlucky locations to be struck by a tsunami? A 2006 study by EmergeX Planning for the SCRD
explains that because of our location, the run-up potential for our region is less than
two metres. Run-up is the amount of seawater that could
be pushed up above normal sea level during a tsunami. Maps on the SCRD website illustrate potential
inundation areas along the Sunshine Coast. These examples theorise what would transpire
should a 10-metre wave hit our shoreline. Gibsons would escape with relatively little
damage. While the marina and infrastructure and property
along Marine Drive would likely be devastated, most of the town wouldn’t feel the direct
consequences of a large, 10-metre tsunami. The destruction in Roberts Creek and Wilson
Creek would be more wide spread. In Roberts Creek, 10 metres of water is shown
to reach as far up as Highway 101. The pier, beaches, and shops and restaurants
would probably take heavy damage. Wilson Creek would be in the same boat. Because of its relatively flat elevation,
water would reach past the highway and invade the shopping plaza, the car dealership,
and Canadian Tire. Damage to property and infrastructure could
be immense. Further up coast, Sechelt and Pender Harbour
would appear to be the hardest hit by our hypothetical tsunami. Large swathes of central Sechelt would be
decimated, and the northern part of the peninsula would likely be completely cut off from the
rest of the province until the waters receded. As the EmergeX report points out, much of
the District centre is flat and home to critical infrastructure. This is compounded by the limited sheltering
of the local offshore islands. It’s a similar story for Pender Harbour where
many parts of that community would find themselves underwater or cut off from the rest of the
region. So, what should you do when you hear there’s
a tsunami warning for the Sunshine Coast? Ready.gov provides these safety tips. If you’re on land, head towards high ground
that’s as far inland as possible and stay there until officials tell you it’s safe to
return. If you’re in the water during a tsunami and
it’s impossible for you to reach land, find anything that floats and just hold on tight. POLICE: We’ll get him when he comes back in! JOHNNY UTAH: He’s not coming back… If you are in a boat, then face the direction
of the waves and head out to sea. However, if you’re in the harbour, head to shore instead. EMMA: We’re gonna make it! We’re gonna make it! TONY: SCREAMS When the tsunami retreats, there’ll likely
be flooding and damage to infrastructure and property. Do your best to avoid floodwaters as they’ll
be full of debris and additional hazards could be hiding just under the surface. While a tsunami hitting the Sunshine Coast
is exceedingly unlikely it’s always best to be prepared for any emergency. You should have an emergency kit at home,
at work, and in your car. You should also contact your insurance company
and double check your coverage for things like an earthquake, flooding, and yes
– of course – a tsunami.

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