Category Archives: Sea Level Rise

Hurricanes & Solar Power: Myths Versus Reality

Making landfall as nearly a Category 5 storm, Hurricane Irma devastated much of the Lower Florida Keys including the island (No Name Key) where my family’s home is located. When we returned to our home a few days after the storm had passed, one of our first tasks was to go up on the roof to check the solar panels.  As I reached the top of the ladder I instantly saw that they were undamaged and looked exactly like they had just a few days earlier, before the storm.

But as I stood there on our roof I had a bird’s eye view of the island and could see debris and devastation in every direction as far as I could see.

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To the West, where commercial fishermen keep their lobster and crab boats docked in the water, those gigantic vessels now sat up on land, tossed into the trees by Irma’s storm surge as if they were toys.

To the North and South and, well, in every direction that I looked, there was (and still is) debris from people’s homes and lives.

And yet there in front of me our roof was seemingly untouched and our solar panels glistened as if Irma had never happened.

And when we turned our solar system on after climbing back down off of the roof, guess what? The system worked perfectly and, despite the fact that Hurricane Irma caused nearly seven million people in Florida to lose their power, our home on No Name had her’s. The bright sunlight powered our home and filled our bank of batteries up for use at night and although we were not able to net solar meter by connecting to the power grid because its poles and wires were nearly all broken by Irma, our solar system brought a bit of brightness (and normalcy) to us more than typically would be the case.

As I publicly advocated the solar power mandate that went into effect last month at the City of South Miami (click here to read more about that law), one of the concerns residents and others who spoke out against the idea often expressed was that adding solar panels to one’s roof would either weaken the roof’s ability to withstand a hurricane or that the panels themselves would blow off during a storm. Both assertions are myths and, in fact, the opposite is true.

My experience with Irma shows that a properly installed solar system will not only survive a direct hit from a catastrophic hurricane but actually helps secure the very roof that such panels typically sit upon. As our society continues to discuss how our citizens receive power in the future and how we can transition to sustainable solutions such as rooftop solar, it is my hope that some good lessons can come from Irma and teach everyone that:

A) Solar panels are built to withstand and survive these monster storms, even one as devastating as Irma, they will not blow off your roof, 

B) Properly installed solar panels have the added benefit of helping protect your roof from a hurricane because the hardware used to attach them helps strengthen the roof by securing it to the trusses below,

C) A solar power system in your home can often provide you with power well before your local utility can after a hurricane hits (FP&L provided our Miami home with power 11 days after Irma and Keys Energy returned power to No Name 14 days later – a remarkable accomplishment Keys Energy should be commended for given the devastation in that region).

So the next time someone tells you that solar panels can’t survive a hurricane’s winds or that having them on your roof makes the roof more vulnerable, please tell them about my home on No Name Key and let them know that those are myths. The reality is, thankfully, that solar panels are built and installed to keep working even when the utility grid and local power company can’t.

PS: Speaking of No Name Key, my family was fortunate as compared to others in our area. If you’ve not read my recent comments and blog about my No Name Key neighbor Bob Eaken and how Irma destroyed his long-time home I hope you will read it by visiting here and that you will consider both donating to his rebuilding effort and share his story with your friends. I know he would appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks for your consideration during his time of need.

Damage Versus Devastation: “Hurricane Irma Left My 82 Year Old Neighbor Homeless. You Can Help.”

Between her winds and the flooding from her storm surge Hurricane Irma did a lot of damage here in Miami but what happened in the lower Florida Keys is the difference between damage and devastation. That’s especially true between Mile Markers 10 and 40, an area spanning places like Cudjoe, Summerland, Ramrod, the Torches, Big Pine and No Name Key, where the devastation has cost many people their homes, businesses, treasured possessions hopes and dreams.

The Old Wooden Bridge Marina building, for example, that long sat on the edge of the bridge to No Name Key has simply disappeared. It’s gone. The land it sat on is empty today of everything but rocks and gravel not because of some post-storm clean-up but because Irma made it disappear. There was a two story building, bait tank, fuel tank and much more here but this is it looks like today after Irma’s visit.

IMG_5583Irma made a lot of things on and around No Name Key disappear or left them so horrifically destroyed that they will need to be completely replaced and rebuilt which  brings me to the reason for today’s blog.

Bruce Turkel is one of the world’s leading experts on business and branding but I know him as a long time neighbor and friend here on No Name Key. Bruce is a renowned public speaker and writes a popular blog (https://turkeltalks.com/) and today he shared the story of another neighbor of ours, 82 year old retired firefighter Bob Eaken, that I want to share with you.

Mr. Eaken has lived on No Name longer than anyone.

In fact, he helped develop the place by digging (dredging) the island’s canal system, as well as building several of the homes on No Name. He has lived on No Name for decades, raised his family there and has a long history of helping others on the island but today he very much needs us to help him because his home looks like this as a result of Hurricane Irma:

Bob Eaken House IMG_2885 Bob Eaken

So with the devastation that engulfs our region of the Lower Keys in mind, I am pleased to publish this guest blog from Bruce and hope that you will both consider making a donation and sharing Mr. Eaken’s story on your own social media so that we can quickly rebuild his home and life here on No Name Key.

 

Turkel Brands

Constructive Commentary on Building Brand Value

Hurricane Irma left my 82-year old

neighbor homeless. You can help.

 

My wife and I have a house on No Name Key in the Florida Keys. We live in a very small neighborhood of about eight houses, surrounded by acres of state and federal wildlife preserve land.

No Name Key is at MM 32, directly east of Big Pine Key. You might recognize that name. It was Ground Zero when Hurricane Irma made landfall and destroyed our community. No Name Key used to be a paradise. Now it looks like war zone. The extent of the destruction is hard to believe.

Help Bob Eaken Rebuild

Our good neighbor Bob Eaken lived at the end of our island. His home was perched on an incredible expanse of open bay and a view of the water and the small islands that dot the horizon. But that was before Hurricane Irma blew off Bob’s roof and his entire top floor. The possessions that Bob accumulated over 82 years are now spread in a giant debris field that fans out over a half mile into the “protected” mangroves behind what’s left of his house. Bob has nowhere to sleep, nowhere to live, and doesn’t even have a stairway to get up to the first floor that’s precariously perched on concrete stilts 12 feet above the wreckage-strewn ground.

Let’s Help Bob Eaken Rebuild

Imagine an 82-year old man climbing a ladder to even get into what little remains of his home. Funny thing is Bob knows all about ladders — he’s a retired firefighter who dedicated his life to saving others in danger.

Luckily Bob evacuated to Miami to weather the storm with us. When we were permitted back on the island and returned with him last Sunday, we gathered up his entire life (or what’s left of it) into five soggy garbage bags.

Why Bob’s story is so interesting is that he single handedly built our “Island’s End” community over 30 years ago. Bob was a Ft. Lauderdale firefighter at the time and would drive down on weekends to carve his dream out of the mangroves. Bob dredged the canal, cleared the roads, and built four or five of the houses in the neighborhood. Up until this disaster, Bob was still hoping on and off his boat, scampering up and down his stairs (now gone), and doing maintenance on his own house as well as all of his neighbors’ homes. You and I should be lucky enough to be in the shape Bob’s in when we’re his age.

Now Bob is hoping for some FEMA money and a trailer so he has a place to live while he tries to rebuild his home from the sad and soggy wreck it is post-Irma. But I’m convinced that Bob is the kind of guy that everyone will want to help. Besides FEMA, firefighter organizations, and a generous public would want to help Bob too if they just knew his story. I’m also convinced that Bob’s story is a great tale of American ingenuity, a can-do attitude, and the indomitable spirit that can inspire so many of us. Telling Bob’s story and rebuilding his house will go a long way to help ease some of the pain people are feeling.

Estimates are that it will take between $100,000 and $200,000 to rebuild Bob’s home. We already have a contractor who is working at below cost and scores of neighbors who are providing the labor to clear the wreckage from Bob’s life. Now we need money for supplies, heavy equipment, and skilled craftspeople. Our plan is to have use the funds you donate to reimburse the tradespeople and to pay for the materials we purchase to repair Bob’s home.

We’ve set up a Go Fund Me. At the time this article was published, we’ve raised $7,200 to help Bob. But we need more. If you’d like to help, please direct your browser HERE to see the site and donate. You can also help by sharing this story everywhere you can. Text and email it to your friends, post it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anywhere else people can find it. Let your friends and family know that if they want to help a real person instead of simply donating to a nameless, faceless charity, this is a great opportunity to make a real difference.

Bob’s story really illustrates the damage the storm did to our lives and our psyches. I believe your generoisty will go a long way to helping a very deserving neighbor rebuild his home AND his life.

I hope you do, too. Please click HERE to help Bob rebuild.

Thank you.

2,000,000 +

Last week I experienced what people really mean when they say that their phone ‘blew up’ and I am pleased to say that it doing so was because of concern for our environment and especially for our climate crisis and sea rise concerns.

MTV had asked me to take over their Snapchat for a day in advance of the Town Hall I’d filmed for them with VP Al Gore, Steve Aoki, Fat Joe and Gabby Wilson. My young readers know this already but for those of you who have never used Snapchat, then I am here to tell you that it is a very big deal to millennials. How big a deal?

Well, during the day that I told my ‘story’ (that’s what it’s called in Snapchat language), the videos and pictures that I posted were viewed over 2,000,000 times. I still can’t believe it and actually stopped counting at 2,016,000 but the fact that many young people watched what I posted is great news and encourages me (yet again) to believe that today’s youth are serious about solving our climate crisis.

And what did I post in my ‘story’? Well you can watch the entire story by clicking on it below but they were not the typical funny cat videos or other silly internet oriented humor that dominates Snapchat. Some of the posts promoted the show An Inconvenient Special but most talked about what is happening all over South Florida including in Miami, Miami Beach and the Florida Keys. Here is the story (it’s limited to 10 second per video so the entire thing is just two minutes long).

And to watch MTV’s recent Town Hall, An Inconvenient Special, with me, VP Gore, Steve Aoki, Fat Joe and Gabby Wilson please just click the video below.

Brianna

So what does the more than 2,000,000 views suggest to me? Well the number of views combined with the number of people who emailed or texted me during and since (that’s the part where my phone ‘blew up’) suggests strongly that today’s youth are truly concerned about our warming climate and the crisis that is growing by the day as well as that they want solutions.

And they not only want to get involved, they know that they need to be involved. How do I know this? Well consider the first of several emails I’ve received from my new friend Brianna in New Jersey who wrote:

Hi Delaney,

Hi, my name’s Brianna, and I recently stumbled across an article on MTV’s Snapchat story about climate change and your efforts in stopping it. It was really interesting, so I did more research on your endeavors and found your website.

The fact that a teenage girl like myself could make such an impact was really, really inspiring to me. I just wanted to ask, how did you get started on all of this? For instance, how does one even begin writing and publishing a book, or make a significant difference in/bring awareness to climate change in a community?

I’ve always wanted to make accomplishments like this, and make a difference in the things I believe in, but I often get overwhelmed and never knew how to get started. I apologize for the vagueness of this request, but could you please help me?

Thank you so much for your time. Your achievements and efforts are extremely admirable, and the world is a better place with active fighters like you in it. Keep up the good work! I hope to be like you one day.

-Brianna

Brianna, the truth is that you inspire me.

And the other truth is that we are exactly like one another already in our concerns and desire to fix what’s badly broken. Your concerns and sentiments and all else are examples of why I work so hard to educate and engage young people over our planet’s climate crisis and to create positive changes to help solve the problem. So to you and everyone else who wrote or texted or commented, even those that were negative, thank you for being engaged in the conversation.

‘Rain Bombs’

And speaking of my recent Snapchat Story I want to end by sharing how truly timely it and MTV’s An Inconvenient Special and especially VP Gore’s new movie, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, is here in South Florida. In the new movie VP Gore explains that our warming climate is experiencing more and more extreme weather including what he called ‘rain bombs’. He talked about how the climate crisis is creating conditions for more severe storms and within them torrential rains that drop an unprecedented amount of water, a ‘rain bomb’, in one place or another.

And his use of the term, and my learning of it from him, is certainly topical based on what happened just the day before I filmed my Snapchat Story for MTV when South Florida was ‘attacked’ by a ‘rain bomb’ that crippled much of our region by dumping an unusually large amount of rain on top of our elevated sea levels to create flooding that crippled many areas. That flooding from ever increasingly severe weather, including ‘rain bombs’ on top of the growing water levels all around us is yet another example of the future South Florida faces in a world of rapidly rising sea levels.

And if a region can be crippled by a severe rain storm as reported by the Miami Herald (click here to read Cleanup But Few Closures The Day After Floodwaters Soaked Cities) consider what will happen when a large hurricane slowly passes our region and drops an unimaginable volume of water on top of our already elevated sea levels.

And then, just for ‘fun’, consider what will happen when these type events happen in the years to come when the sea level all around us and the waters under our porous limestone geology are much higher than they are today. Or when they have become so high on their own that they impact our daily lives every day, even without a rain storm or hurricane. That’s the future of South Florida and countless places all over America and the World unless we get serious, seriously soon, and end our use of fossil fuels and stop emitting the carbon pollution that’s causing this crisis.

So whether or not you watch MTV or use Snapchat, I need your help. The good news is that I know that millions of young people share my concerns and that those 2,000,000+ views just scratch the surface of how young people all over our planet feel. I know that I speak for them when I say to those adults in charge today, political ‘leaders’, businesses executives and others that it is time we all get serious and get started solving the problem.

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