Hurricane Irma - Clean Solar Energy

In brief: Help us get a solar energy system to power our hurricane rebuild and reduce consumption of fossil fuels.  Help us become leaders-by-example in the push for more common sense, clean and sustainable energy in the BVI. 

Background: The eye of Hurricane Irma passed over the island of Tortola on Wednesday, September 6, with winds of over 200mph. Four people died and the damage to homes, the environment and infrastructure was beyond anything people here can remember. 

We are thankful to be alive, well and able to plan for the future. However, our home suffered significant damage. We lost more than 14 windows and there was damage to our walls and floors. Because the storm gained entry to the inside of the house, we lost practically all our furniture and a lot of belongings. The upper floor of our property is a vacation rental and as a result of the storm we had to cancel many bookings for 2017/2018 season. We have homeowners insurance which (we hope!) will cover a lot of the physical damage -- but not all.  

Since the storm, we have been busy working to clean up the property, and get back on our feet.  By week 6 we were boarded up and able to move back in.  Now, at about week 12, we are able to start thinking beyond the day-to-day. And one of the things we've been thinking about a lot is the potential of solar power to provide cleaner, more resilient power for the future.

What we're raising funds for: All the funds raised here will go towards a solar energy system for our house.

We have learned a lot about solar energy systems since the storm.  About 6 weeks after the hurricane we succeeded in setting up a simple solar system using a single solar panel and a car battery, delivering enough power to keep our internet running 24/7 and to provide an outlet to charge our phones. 

Since then, we have been researching bigger systems which could do more, and have identified a 4.8kw Humless home power system , with 4 solar panels as the ideal emergency power and back-up system for our home.  The system will be big enough to sustain our essential needs while power remains out, and during any future extended outages  -- water pump, refrigerator, a few lights and electronics.  And in normal times it will allow us to reduce our fossil-fuel based electricity consumption.  The system costs $7,759 and the panels cost $948. 

Irma tought us lots of lessons, among them the potential of solar power not just as a nice concept but as a practical solution to real problems.  It's our hope that by getting a modern, resilient solar system and sharing our story with others, we would encourage more people in our community (and even future guests) to do the same. We will share all that we learn about the process with other homeowners and with the community and will use our project to draw attention to the convenience and possibility of solar.  Solar is not the fuel of the future: it should be the fuel of now!

Thank you so much for reading and for considering a donation to our project.  It means a lot to us. And once we get things back in order, we look forward to welcoming friends and visitors back to our beloved home.

Susanna & Amarro

Our house on Sept 7, the day after the storm:

Romney Park, our neighborhood, on the day after the storm. This photo was taken from our deck. All the specks of white on the hillsides are pieces of roof or other building materials from damaged houses.

The upstairs kitchen, after Irma:

Our downstairs living room - Irma cleared it right out:

The yard on the western side of the house:

Our storage shed:

In the weeks since the storm we have been working to clean up, and Mother Nature has started to mend her wounds too. This panoramic was taken in mid-November from the lower yard.

And here's our living room. Outdoor furniture to the rescue!

Our siding got the power-wash of a lifetime (we hope!) in the storm. We think she still looks awfully handsome:

And finally, here's a photo of the Humless power system (solar panels sold seperately) that we need.

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    • $545 
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    • $50 
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  • Rachel Henighan 
    • $500 
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  • Lucy Henighan 
    • $1,000 
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  • Todd Shelton 
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Susanna Henighan Potter 
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