NEWS RELEASE · 30th October 2012
MP Nathan Cullen
Saturday’s earthquake off Haida Gwaii has pointed to communication and transportation shortfalls that must be addressed now to protect islanders in future, said MP Nathan Cullen today.
“Our offices have been in touch with local government leaders on Haida Gwaii since the quake and it’s obvious there are a number of safety issues that all levels of government must work together to solve,” Cullen said.
Lack of cell service has been identified as a major infrastructure shortfall.
“Emergency responders simply had no way of coordinating their work outside of the pockets of cell service in major communities. The lack of mobile communications definitely hindered response and evacuation efforts.”
A year-round alternate route to Highway 16, which hugs the coast and is therefore at significant risk of tsumanis damage, is also a top priority, Cullen said.
“While it wasn’t an operational issue on Saturday, the lack of a reliable secondary route became very clear. Islanders currently depend on a forestry road that may or may not be properly maintained outside of active logging. This cannot continue.”
Delays in the provincial tsunami alert system and lack of a dedicated emergency operations centre on island were also identified as issues during the weekend earthquake response.
“The federal government absolutely has a role to play in shoring up emergency response on Haida Gwaii,” Cullen said. “I’ll be working closely with local governments and Ottawa for solutions to these problems.”
Cullen praised the efforts of emergency response officials on Haida Gwaii and in coastal communities on the weekend. He expressed his gratitude that the 7.7 magnitude earthquake, the largest in Canada in 60 years, did not cause major injuries and property damage
Cullen said he felt the earthquake in Whitehorse, Yukon, on Saturday night, during an event there while on a riding tour of the Atlin area.