Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mental Floss

The wind is howling a gale this morning, and I don't feel like paddling, but my memory is turning to recent events.
We had a good time in Cadboro Bay late in March. What a great day that was to be on the water! Cool enough that we didn't overheat, warm enough that Louise didn't have to put on the pogies she had ready on her kayak's deck. We didn't have to set a new speed record, or go any farther from shore than Jemmy Jones. It was a treat to slip out there and then cross to the big rock garden along the Uplands shore. Every rock we passed had a memory, out to Mary Tod Island and back.
I thought about that trip while watching the news reports from Japan after the earthquake and during the tsunami. We're so familiar with waves from our times on the water that it's too easy to see a tidal wave as simply another wave. But the shape of that wave is different. It just seems wrong to see a wave that piles so high and then keeps pushing, farther and farther inland, and then gradually draining away, pulling smashed objects with it.
The smashed shoreline in Japan, and the damaged shoreline in parts of Hawaii and California, brought home the damage a tsunami can do. Along the coast of BC, there were tsunami warnings and in some areas, like Victoria, a tsunami watch.
The community of Port Alberni took the tsunami warning seriously -- they're at the end of a long, narrow fjord. There's been damage in the past at this and other communities in similar locations. This warning turned out to be a dry run and a good test of the evacuation plans. If you go to Port Alberni, you can see roadside signs in areas that would be at risk during a tsunami, and signs that show where to go to be on high ground. Planning isn't enough, as people in Japan learned during their great earthquake and tsunami. But it can help us avoid obvious mistakes.

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