A Bokeelia man unexpectedly helps the community with a Youtube channel

Jay Nygard knew Hurricane Ian was coming to the Fort Myers area.

Despite the conflicting reports for over a week, he just had this strong feeling.

And yet, he wasn’t too worried about his renewable-energy-powered home in Bokeelia, just atop Pine Island.

The president of Go Green Energy and part time youtuber said he had made a video the previous night from his main Minnesota address, telling viewers he was not nervous about Ian’s impact on his Florida home.

“My house was built after Hurricane Andrew and it can withstand hurricanes and I know I put renewable energy in it so when the power goes out my beer will stay cold in the fridge,” Nygard said. “I knew there was really nothing to worry about for my house…I was more concerned about the other people in the community who weren’t so ready.”

Now, over a week after Ian’s Terror ended, Nygard has returned to Bokeelia and is now posting a new set of videos.

Nygard uses his YouTube channel to help his community come together, as well as to share their stories as the world watches the region.

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“It’s coming”

There’s one thing to know about Nygard right off the bat; he always liked energy.

So when the mechanical engineer and former US Navy nuclear machinist bought his Bokeelia home in 2004, it came as no surprise when he decided to make it “green” a few years later in 2008.

He was at home in Minnesota when he remembers being told by his wife that a hurricane was forming near the Caribbean, possibly heading towards Florida where their Bokeelia home was.

Like most at the time, he didn’t think too much about it at first.

“We hadn’t had a big one lately, so I wasn’t too worried…the interesting thing was the closer he got, they said he was going to Tampa Bay, the more sure I was that he was coming here,” Nygard said. “That’s exactly what happened with Charley and I just kept watching the radar and of course…it’s coming.”

As the storm moved closer and closer, Nygard spoke with his neighbors in Bokeelia, making sure they were well ahead of the hurricane.

When Ian made landfall on September 28, he saw the “worst-case scenario” unfold in an area he loved and called one of his homes for almost two decades.

Youtuber and President of Go Green Energy Jay Nygard's Bokeelia home survived Hurricane Ian's 155mph winds, as seen on his YouTube channel where he began documenting the storm's destruction.

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Within 48 hours, Nygard was heading to Bokeelia to help the community.

“I said to my wife the day the storm hit, ‘I don’t want to talk about what’s going to happen next, I just want to see what happens and I can decide.’ I got up the next morning and said, ‘I’m going to Florida,'” Nygard said.

“I spent all day loading the truck and getting it ready to go, but then I talked to my neighbor Bob…he said you might want to wait a day or two because it’s It’s really hard to get out of here, so I waited one more day, did some work I needed to do in Minnesota and left.”

Back to Bokeelia

After a 30-hour drive and a stop to pick up his son, Kahler, in Tampa, Nygard finally arrived in Fort Myers on October 5, ready to go home and help with whatever he could.

That is until he was blocked by local law enforcement from going to D&D Marina in Matlacha, where boats were lined up to take them and their supply truck to Pine Island.

After watching the hurricane hit the Southwest Florida area from Minnesota, YouTuber and Go Green Energy President Jay Nygard hopped in his car 40 hours later to check out his home in Bokeelia and help his neighbors after the storm.  Equipped with his video camera, he documented it on his channel for the world to see.

Undeterred, Nygard and her son persisted and drove to Burnt Store Marina, where they first took a ride with a friend.

“There’s a friend of ours who wanted to cross over who also has a house on Pine Island… he followed us and we got up there and my friend just couldn’t get his boats there,” Nygard said. “A guy stopped to bring people and I offered him gas if he can get us to Bokeelia and he said ‘No problem’. He was coming back this way anyway, but it’s what he needed was fuel and I brought an extra 50 gallons of fuel to the back of my truck, among other things.”

After exchanging a boat ride, they finally left for Bokeelia. Along the way, Nygard captured his journey in the emerging series “I’m Not Afraid of Hurricane Ian” on his Turbine Guy YouTube channel.

Documenting everything from debris and overturned boats to the effects of storm surge, Nygard gave its viewers a front-row seat to what happened on Pine Island after the hurricane hit.

Approaching his own neighborhood, he said he thought he had an idea of ​​what to expect.

“I kind of expected to see this terrible, terrible damage when we got to Bokeelia and we saw damage up there, but in Hurricane Charley, Bokeelia had the worst. This time St. James City did it,” Nygard said. “The further south we were, the worse the damage got.”

Eventually, at 5 p.m. on the same day they arrived, they arrived at their home on Judith Road. And to their surprise, not only did they have very minimal damage, but the power was working.

He said that after inspecting and documenting all the slight damage, he said it made him happy to see how well the solar panels had held up.

“A lot of people told me my solar panels would end up in Cape Coral or somewhere else, but it’s all on the roof,” Nygard said. “Pretty much but small things, all of my solar renewables survived one of the worst hurricanes ever very well.”

Become a Community Watchdog

Throughout his road trip and journey home, Nygard would post his videos to the “Pine Island Prospect” group on Facebook.

Just for fun, he said.

However, it quickly transformed into something bigger.

“(I posted my videos saying) You know, ‘Hey, I’m coming to help’ or whatever and people saw that and they started contacting me and messaging me through Facebook or via my YouTube channel, asking me ‘Can you check my house?’ “said Nygard. “So my friend next door did some security checks before we arrived. And then we did some security checks and a lot more property checks for people.”

Nygard said dozens of people reached out across the county to do free property checks. His son even bought a drone to perform not only visual checks but also roof and property inspections for Pine Island homeowners.

And he’s more than happy to do them, he added. He said he was happy to give other residents peace of mind.

“It’s such an interesting thing we can do in the modern era where somebody comes running around and filming (the house) or filming something and uploading it and boom, you can see it in no time,” Nygard said. “It’s one thing to talk to someone on the phone. You know, your house looks good, but it’s another thing to see the real photos.”

He also filmed his adventure in the devastated community, filming other homes and shops he encounters while offering viewers commentary on what he sees.

It allowed him to showcase his beloved community while the world watches and give other residents a much-needed spotlight. It uses an example of spotting an open Low Key Tiki in Saint James City.

“(The owner was) like, ‘Oh yeah, I saw your videos this morning, people sent me the link to that video.’ She said it was so awesome because other people make them but yours are great,” Nygard said. “She got her hubby and let me do a quick video with her as Low Key Tiki saying the bar is open.”

In addition to his videos, he is also currently offering energy to charge phones, tools and more at their homes, as they have done in previous hurricanes.

He said residents were extremely grateful for his messages and help. He added that locals have really come together to help each other since the storm as well.

“When huge adversity like this hurricane happens, it brings everyone together and everyone works together to recover and the community becomes stronger and that’s what I see happening,” Nygard said.

Next steps

Although he’s only had his channel for two years, Nygard has made an impact with his videos.

“When you have the opportunity to make people appreciate what you produce…I keep this in mind that I’m not filming for myself, I’m filming for what other people will want to see,” Nygard said.

He said he planned to stay in Bokeelia for another week, planning to document more places on the island and tidy up his house before returning to Minnesota.

He also plans to visit Froggies Bar after learning it will reopen next week.

While he has seen this storm coming, he knows other people haven’t seen it. If there’s anything he learned from this storm, he said he plans to push for more “do it yourself” content on his channel to help residents before a natural disaster, like Ian.

“I really want to push for people to be able to do it themselves here because if you can install your own (renewable energy system) you can save 30% or more,” Nygard said. “It’s getting affordable and I want to help the people of Pine Island prepare for the next time it happens.”

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