The Old House That Survived Irma

Sherine Williams, Journalist | October 10, 2017 11:35 am MDT
Side view of the house which is made of wooden walls and zinc roof.
Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
Just over a month after Hurricane Irma smashed into the BVI, a small one-room board house, presumed to be well over one hundred years old, stands tall and strong in Tortola’s capital Road Town.

The old house is quietly gaining popularity, as news that it survived the deadly Hurricane Irma, with nearly all its fixtures intact, spreads throughout the territory.

When Hurricane Irma bore down on the BVI, it registered on devices used to detect earthquakes. The catastrophe ripped through the territory and its brutal winds vandalized vehicles and property. In the end, it claimed 4 lives and left eighty percent of homes and businesses damaged or totally wrecked.

Despite its strength, it seems Irma was no match for the old house on Main Street, which only gave a half of its entrance door to the angry storm.

The house sits on a property originally owned by the Georges, a popular local family.

All around it stands modern buildings and some old ones, also said to be over a century. However, none of the buildings fared nearly as well as the old house.

“This house has been here before I was a boy. It is well over 150 years old…it’s older than my mother, who would have been about 100 years old this year,” said 60 year-old Kenneth Thomas, whose family now controls the old house and use it as a storeroom for various items.

Pillars of large horizontal-shaped rocks, placed firmly in the earth, form the foundation of the old house. Its walls are made of planks of wood, now discoloured from lack of upkeep and years of exposure to the elements. Completing the architecture is the zinc roof which has a rich brown colour from decades of deterioration.

Kenneth believes the techniques and materials used to build houses in the past were much better than those used today.

“It’s just the way they used to build back in those days. Lumber from trees in the forest used to mature properly, but now because human population is growing so fast, people have to cut lumbers before they mature. So that’s why I believe the old structures are stronger,” Kenneth said.

“Those two houses, the one on the left and the right shielded it from the wind,” said a local resident, who believes the old house survived merely by accident.

But whatever the reason for its survival, there is no doubt that the old house on Main Street, Road Town is a welcomed anomaly – one that signifies the strength of the BVI people, who have are rebuilding their lives in a hurricane ravaged territory.

swilliams@bviplatinum.com
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