Historically, few persons have been killed or injured by earthquakes although many have lost their lives in the resulting collapse of buildings, fires, landslides, tsunamis and dam failures. Earthquakes also create a large number of related hazards. Shock waves or tremors can initiate breaks in electrical wires, rupture gas mains, destroy tanks holding flammable or toxic substances, crumble roadways and bridges and render a panic stricken citizenry momentarily incapable of exercising basic self-help measures. Earthquakes occur most frequently where they have been relatively common in the past. Of primary importance is the realization that the Alberni Valley is located in a region that is prone to seismic activity.
Earthquakes are unpredictable and strike without warning. The Richter Scale measures the amount of energy released (magnitude). The Mercalli Scale measures the amount of damage caused (intensity).
The Alberni Valley lies in the Modified Mercalli Intensity VIII Zone. According to the Mercalli Scale, an earthquake of intensity VIII will result in the following: slight damage to specially designed structures; considerable damage (including partial collapse) to ordinary buildings; great damage to poorly built structures; fall of smokestacks, chimneys, columns, walls and monuments; overturned heavy objects and furniture; broken windows and considerable glass on sidewalks.
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"Surviving a Disaster is Everyone's Business"