We may not have to face Hurricane Irma, but the Cowichan Valley has its own kind of dangerous weather. (File photo)

Column: Hurricane Irma makes one appreciate the Island

Robert’s column

Every time I head south to kick my feet up on a beach, have a piña colada and enjoy the Caribbean sun, I truly believe I would move to a tropical region in a second if given the opportunity.

Summer has always been my favourite season so the thought of living in a place where it’s hot and sunny for the vast majority of the year has always held a certain attraction for me.

The sheer joy of getting up every morning of the year and jumping into the warm, turquoise-coloured ocean for a swim to start the day seems heavenly.

But the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma as it smashed its way through the Caribbean last week makes one realize that there is price to pay if you want to live in a tropical paradise.

Being from the east coast of Canada, I’ve been in many, what I always believed, were heavy wind storms over the years.

And compared to the wind storms we get here on the Island, I guess they were pretty severe.

I remember that people would chain their rather heavy propane barbecues to their outdoor decks not because they were afraid they would be stolen, but to keep the wind from actually picking them up and carrying them away.

But the winds from Irma were in a league all their own, reaching speeds of more than 250 kilometres per hour and killing more than 50 people as of the printing of this column.

I often wonder how much reporters from CNN get paid to put themselves in the middle of these storms to show their viewing audience how violent they can be.

The reporters all try to keep standing upright but, typically, their heads and shoulders go down as they attempt to lower their gravitational centre as much as possible to keep from getting blown over.

I actually once saw a small female CNN reporter, with an open jacket that served as a sail, get blown right up the road she was trying to stand on while conducting an interview during one of these hurricanes as one of her helpers caught up with her and held her down before the wind carried her straight to the land of Oz.

Mind you, we do have weather events right here on the Island and in the Cowichan Valley that are also death defying.

Just last winter, the knuckles were often white with nervous pressure as I gripped my steering wheel many mornings as I slowly and carefully made my way to the Citizen office in Duncan during those many snowstorms we had shortly after Christmas.

On several occasions, I came across cars in ditches or balanced precariously over the concrete median in the middle of the highway as drivers lost their battles with the unfamiliar snow and ice on the roadways.

One morning, I slid off the road myself in icy conditions while trying to avoid a car in front of me that unexpectedly hit the brakes.

I was in the ditch for some time before a group of Good Samaritans took the time to push me back up onto the road.

It was pretty scary driving for awhile before the traditional rainy winter conditions on the Island prevailed once again, and I wonder what this coming winter has in store for us.

But, whatever kind of winter is sent our way, at least we can be fairly confident that, unlike the victims of Hurricane Irma, our homes will still be standing after a storm blows through.

The dream of spending my days on a tropical beach seems to have taken a hit by reality.

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