Earthquake simulator deployed to prepare Vancouver residents for the big one

City officials shook fear into residents at city hall Tuesday with a mobile earthquake simulator that shows how Vancouver would rumble if the big one hit.

Participants lined up in the rain to experience Quake Cottage, a small trailer that looks like a Disneyland ride but is designed to show people how an 8.0-magnitude earthquake would feel.

It only shakes for about 30 seconds, but it’s enough time to realize that if a massive quake hits Vancouver, the tremors would be terrifying.

In the corner of the three-person hydraulic simulator sits a microwave. It’s bolted to the table but it doesn’t take much to imagine how the intense rattling would send that box of metal flying.

A screen inside displays images of glass shattering, dangerous objects falling and people screaming.

City officials are hoping the simulator will spur people to finally put together a survival plan and kits for the home, car and office.

Quake Cottage, which will tour Metro Vancouver cities this week, was at city hall to mark Emergency Preparedness Week, which this year comes less than two weeks after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, killing more than 7,500 people and injuring more than 14,500.

Jackie Kloosterboer, emergency planning and Emergency Social Services (ESS) coordinator for the City of Vancouver, said many people think about buildings collapsing, but not about the debris.

“The stuff in your cupboard is going to go flying,” she said. “Living in Vancouver, we are so overdue for an earthquake that people are very complacent. So this simulator provides a bit of a wake-up call for people to get prepared,” she said.

While many Vancouverites may have a home preparedness kit, she said, people who work in the city also need to have a plan, which should include a kit at the office with comfortable footwear and a rain jacket.

“If a big earthquake hits, the bridges could be down. How are you getting home to Maple Ridge in three-inch heels?”

The city will hold free planning workshops in May and June to help residents learn how to prepare for an emergency. Workshops are 90 minutes long and will be offered at community centres and public libraries through the Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness program.

Meanwhile, as the death toll continues to climb in Nepal from the region’s largest earthquake in 80 years, the Nepalese government said it would need immense international support as reconstruction efforts begin in the coming weeks.

Nepal is one of the world’s poorest nations, and its economy, largely based on tourism and agriculture, has been crippled by the earthquake. More than 4,000 rescue workers from 34 countries are helping with rescue operations to provide emergency medical care and distribute food and other necessities.

A group of travellers from Victoria has started a fundraising campaign called Backpackers for Nepal on

Nikki Sequeira, who had been travelling in Nepal for a month when the quake struck, is in Pokhara and says there are still many villages that have not yet been reached. In an email, she said there is a tremendous need for support from the international community to help this country recover. As of Tuesday, the group’s fundraising campaign had raised more than $13,000 of its $25,000 goal for the Red Cross.


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