Cross Country Checkup

Are you watching Hurricane Irma, do you have friends or relatives in its path?

Hurricane Irma. The storm is churning its way northwards leaving a trail of destruction and misery in its wake. Many Canadians have roots and connections in that path. Are you watching, do you have friends or relatives there?
Houses are damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Maarten on Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. (Gerben Van Es/Dutch Defense Ministry via AP)

Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest hurricanes ever measured in the Atlantic Ocean. It is battering the west coast of Florida right now after it left a path of devastation across the Caribbean earlier this week.


Irma hit the Florida Keys this morning with winds clocking at 215 km/h. The Category 4 hurricane then headed for Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg causing flooding, power outages and even tornadoes across the state.

Host of Cross Country Checkup, Duncan McCue.
Florida is no stranger to hurricanes but this one is a monster. Over six million people are under evacuation order. In the leadup to the storm, highways were clogged and gasoline shortages widespread. Many worried about being stranded in a car, or too poor to evacuate, are hunkered down in their homes right now. Over 100,000 people took shelter Saturday in schools, community centres and churches.

Fortunately, another giant storm — Hurricane Jose — veered away from the Caribbean last night. But in some of the islands there isn't much left to destroy after Irma. Island paradises such as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Antigua are emergency zones. Twenty five people are now reported dead. In many areas international troops are finally delivering food and water, but reconstruction is expected to take years.

But the destruction and misery left behind by these hurricanes raise other questions for Canadians. Scientists warn climate change will lead to bigger, more frequent natural disasters... are we prepared? Is our infrastructure ready? What about the impact on the insurance industry and those who pay for protection?

Our question: Are you watching Hurricane Irma? Do you have friends or relatives in its path?


Denise Dumont, former Editor-in-Chief and now General Manager of Le Soleil de la Floride 

Johanna Wagstaffe, CBC Senior Meterologist 

Harold R. Wanless, Chair of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami, an expert on the effect of rising sea levels caused by climate change

Paul Kovacs, Executive Director at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction and adjunct Research Professor, Economics at Western University, in Ontario.

Kevin Quigley, Scholarly Director at the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance at Dalhousie University.