In Finding My Virginity, I listed the 75 close shaves I have experienced in my life – the moments when I’ve nearly kicked the bucket during various wild adventures, from ballooning to diving, skydiving to firefighting.
Well, number 76 definitely arrived when Hurricane Irma hit the British Virgin Islands. The strongest hurricane ever to hit the Atlantic wreaked a path of destruction that brought the eye of the storm to Necker Island, Moskito Island and the whole surrounding area. Generally speaking, we have one hurricane in the British Virgin Islands around every 10 years, and I watched the three previous hurricanes from a guest tub on the top of the house. They were exhilarating experiences, seeing nature at its most spectacular. Because it was on top of the house, I always thought I was safe from any flying debris, which is among the biggest dangers during hurricane.
On this occasion, knowing how strong Hurricane Irma was expected to be, Holly made me promise not to go to the tub. Being a dad who likes to rebel against his daughter, I thought I’d pop in for a few minutes before the hurricane hit. But fortunately I took my daughter’s advice and I didn’t sit through the hurricane in the tub.
Half an hour after I got out of the tub and we were all safely in the cellar, 285 kph (180mph) winds hit the island. They picked up a heavy bath that flew about 30 metres through the air, and buried itself exactly where I’d been sitting – you can see where it ended up in this photo.
However strong the hurricane, you simply don’t expect a one tonne bath to be picked up and thrown through the air. There is no chance I would have survived if I had stayed put.
Whole houses were destroyed, trees disappeared, and doors and windows flew 40 metres away. Of course, this was a drop in the ocean compared to what was happening elsewhere in the British Virgin Islands. I simply wanted to share this story to illustrate the power of the hurricane as I think back to what so many people went through – and are still going through – in the BVI and Caribbean.
Since the hurricanes we have been focused upon supporting the surrounding communities recover from the disaster. I’ve seen the deep pain that the people of the BVIs and other Caribbean countries have experienced, losing everything, their homes, their livelihoods, but certainly not their spirit. They are all facing an emergency situation and we are supporting as much as possible – head over to my previous blogs to see our current recovery work and plans.