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'It was very devastating': Anniversary of tsunami in Port Alberni serves as warning


Monday marks the 59th anniversary of a devastating tsunami that crashed through a Vancouver Island community.

The first wave hit Port Alberni just after midnight on March 27, 1964.

A second, towering wave measuring almost five metres tall (16 feet) smashed into the community about an hour later.

The powerful tsunami damaged more than 300 homes, tossing cars like toys.

Overall damage added up to more than $100 million in today's numbers.

The waves were from the second largest earthquake ever recorded, a magnitude 9.2 subduction quake that rumbled off the coast of Alaska.

"It was very devastating," said John Cassidy, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada.

"It's a miracle that no one was seriously injured or killed during the event," he said.

"And it wasn't just Port Alberni, it was Hot Springs Cove. Sixteen out of 18 homes were damaged during that event – and also Tofino and Ucluelet had some damage as well," he said. "Very frightening for people living in the tsunami zones in Port Alberni."

Experts say since that tsunami, many coastal communities in B.C. have developed tsunami warning systems.

Cassidy adds that the anniversary is a good reminder for people to know what to do and where to go in the event of a tsunami. Top Stories

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