How will your part of Langley fare in the Big One?

Langley City may shake longer, while Fort Langley may ‘migrate’, livestock at high risk

If the big one hits Langley, residents of the City may feel more intense shaking than the rest of the community, says Langley’s emergency response expert.

“Langley City (sits on) 100 feet of clay,” said Ginger Sherlock, Langley’s Emergency Response co-ordinator. “While this needs to be debated more, I have been told by a few geologists that the clay acts as an amplifier — a good conduit for motion.”

A research paper on the seismic responses of different areas shows that buildings one to two storeys high that are on the Fraser Delta soils will fare similarly to those built on hard rock; however taller buildings (10 to 12 storeys) will be most susceptible to ground motion.

Sherlock said while there is still much to learn about which areas of Langley would feel an earthquake more intensely, it appears, upon initial research, that the City will shake longer, but “Fort Langley might ‘move’ or ‘migrate.’”

Fort Langley is in a flood zone, next to the Fraser River and is built on sediment. McMillan island and Brae Island, accessible by bridge from Fort Langley, were created by glacial retreat.

Sherlock spoke to the Langley board of education at its October meeting to update them on the recent completion of the emergency communications plan done in co-ordination with the City, Township, school district, RCMP and fire departments.

Over the last year, information officers from the City of Langley, the Township, Langley School District and local RCMP and fire, have been meeting monthly to prepare emergency messaging for use in case of a regional disaster.

This collaborative effort has resulted in a document that is ‘pre-prepared’ in the event of an emergency. Included in the document is hazard, risk and vulnerability analysis for the region quite literally outlines the potential crisis situations the Langley region may experience, said Sherlock.

Sherlock said B.C. would fare much like Christchurch, New Zealand, which experienced a devastating earthquake in 2010, in terms of damage and death caused by a major earthquake.

“We will shake and roll, but our building code is good so our homes and buildings will do OK,” Sherlock said. “It’s our barns I’m worried about.”

Barns would collapse in a major seismic shift leading to a massive loss of livestock, she said.

As in other disasters, people will likely have access to the internet, Sherlock claims.

“People should get on Facebook and let people know information about you. There will be interruptions but people should be able to text,” she said.

Trustees asked why Langley has not done a full-scale earthquake drill to test the levels of co-ordination.

“Delta did a drill and it costs them $500,000,” Sherlock replied. “It’s very expensive to do.”

Sherlock said she is looking at lessons learned from Hurricane Irma and other recent disasters, to incorporate into Langley’s plan.

“We have all come to the table and the message is very co-ordinated. The regional plan dovetails with the local plan.”

Around 500 people, almost all families, attend ended the Emergency Preparedness Fair at Kwantlen Polytechnic University last month, said Sherlock. The fair featured the Shakezone machine that let people safely experience an 8.0 magnitude earthquake.

The Shakezone was also brought to Betty Gilbert and HD Stafford Middle Schools.

“Students were quite shocked by the sensation an 8.0 earthquake can give,” she said.


The great Shake Out took place across B.C. Oct. 19.

Despite awareness efforts, B.C. residents aren’t prepared for the big one, say emergency experts.

However, Langley School District partnered with St. John’s Ambulance and each school now has proper earthquake supplies, including 41 principals’ grab-and-go kits and 650 emergency classroom packs.


BELOW: This is what you should have in your home emergency supply kit because as the government says, odds of the big one in B.C. in the next 50 years is one in three!


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