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Parent questions value of earthquake drills in seismically unsafe schools

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Is there a point of participating in the Great BC Shakeout if your school will likely disintegrate during a major earthquake?

That’s what one parent is asking as thousands of kids around the province participate in earthquake drills.

When Kim Nowitsky imagines her seven year old boy climbing under his desk in class as part of the drill, it’s hard for her think of anything but the worst.

That’s because William Bridge Elementary is among the most susceptible to collapsing in a megaquake.

“My son’s school in particular is one of the worst schools in the province,” says Nowitsky. “It’s really sad to think that today he’s going to be hiding under his desk when in reality the whole building will likely collapse around him in an earthquake.”

Nowitsky’s group Richmond Stands United wants an acceleration of seismic upgrading, as it estimates 35,000 kids in Vancouver and Richmond are in schools vulnerable to crumbling.

“It’s shocking, really,” says Nowitsky. “I feel really uncomfortable sending him to school every day. I don’t work in a building like that. I’m sure a lot of us would not want to work in a building that was that unsafe.”

Nowitsky says the province hasn’t approved seismic upgrading for a Richmond school since 2011.

Half of Richmond’s 48 schools are considered to be at high risk for serious damage in an earthquake.