Gauntt Family Hurricane Fund

Campaign Created by: Christina Duenas

The funds from this campaign will be received by John & Kate Gauntt.

Goal: USD $125,000
Raised: USD $ 85,000

Hello Friends and Family! Alex & Christina Duenas along with Justin & Tiffany Burr have started this fundraiser for our dear friends…

Pastor John and Kate Gauntt and their 8 kids are residents of Fort Myers Beach, Fl. They are some of the most Godly, fun, kind, loving, giving, exceptional people we know. 

Pastor John, Kate and the kids were at their home on Ft Myers Beach during Hurricane Ian. They stayed in their home until the storm surge started to rush into their 1st floor. At which time they waded through the water with their 8 kids (ages 15-1 year) to a couple houses further up the block, which was higher then their house. 

The water rose approximately 6 - 8 feet in their home. The entire first floor including the kids bedrooms are destroyed. They are safe, the kids are safe. But now they are trying the salvage what they can. But the destruction on the island is mind blowing. They will be without jobs, the kids will be out of school, no electric, limited food & water options. They will require funds to salvage, demolish, restore and rebuild. They will need clothes, gas for generators, food, water, personal items, their cars were under water and beat up, they have 2 fishing boats (their livelihood) 1 survived, the other is unreachable at this time. 

We are asking you to please donate, as little or as much as you can. So that they can focus their attention on their 8 children, their needs and on the restoration process for their home and business and life going forward which could take months or even years to rebuild. 

All money raised will be given directly to Pastor John and Kate. 


Update #3 - Contjnued
October 15, 2022
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Then she sent me a screen recording of the 5pm advisory that said the worst was still to come. I thought, “this storm was supposed to be from 1pm to 3pm it is not following the schedule the weather people made for it!” and I also thought, “is this how my whole family dies?” I do not say that lightly, this question above all others hung like a neon sign in the front of my brain, an actual nightmare come true. At 5:10 another text came through to me from a friend on a different part of the island that said the water had dropped substantially. Thank God. The wind was still so strong we couldn’t open a shutter to check for ourselves, but my faith hung on that one text, rereading it a hundred times. I was constantly trying to check in with others I knew were on the island. Was everyone okay? Please be okay. At 5:15 we started smelling smoke. Que my husband and I running around trying to figure out what was on fire. I asked Bev if we were on fire, she assured us we weren’t. I asked my dad if our house was on fire, he also said no, no fire there. For the next 2 hours we huddled in the house, in the dark, and still smelling smoke. Just after 7pm we felt like the gusts had died down enough for us to open the shutter in front of the door. It was still light enough to see that the water had receded to maybe a couple feet in the road, and the debris it left was astounding. It was still very windy but I needed to know the source of the smoke. At the stair landing I could see another person I didn’t know at a house nearby doing the same. “Are you okay?!”, we shouted. “I don’t live here!”, he shouted back. Indeed he was standing on a second story balcony of a completely shuttered house and he looked confused. The smoke was coming from 2 street north, big black clouds billowing through the structures left. Cool air filled the little house and I felt like I could breathe for the first time in hours. Any exposed ground had an eerie, pulsing glow, from all the phosphorescent creatures that had been scattered everywhere, like we’d just emerged from our ship onto some alien planet. We decided to spend the night where we were, as we had no shoes to wade back through the water and debris in. John did go on his own to check in on my dad and get the generator running. The gas for it was in his truck. As soon as he left I regretted letting him leave. From the door and landing I couldn’t see the path he had to take because we were facing the opposite direction of the street. It was completely dark and he was wearing a headlamp and no shoes. I tried calling him and my dad a zillion times, but this is when our cell service officially died. I was so afraid something would happen to him in between the 2 house and I wouldn’t be able to find him. When he eventually returned I was standing on the landing in the rain waiting for him, my heart in my throat. He brought me a pair of boots and some extra clothes which I gave to the kids who needed them. We all sat together as a family and thanked God that we were okay. Kids filled up every space of the floor and we tried to get some sleep. Every loud gust of wind kept me on edge, my heart racing, ready to jump. It was stormy through the night. Laying in the dark John said to me, “I don’t care if the forecast is a butterfly fart, we’re never riding out a storm again.” “Agreed,” I said.

Update #3 Continued
October 15, 2022
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As we got the house ready on Tuesday we talked about leaving with the evacuation order. We have a large family; 8 kids, 3 dogs, and my dad was in town staying with us, too. With a one day notice our options were few, and with the storm as big as it was, most of our friends and family’s homes would also likely get hit hard. Our house was an old beach house but it had held strong through Charlie, through Irma, and we felt confident it would be fine once more. The worst damage our island typically acquires is from flooding so we decided to stay so that we could do active damage control as soon as the storm had passed. The day before the storm hit it was predicted to be a Cat 3 possibly 4 and 3-7 ft storm surge. We prepared as we knew how, ready to be without power and water for some time afterward. Even later when it changed to a 5-10ft surge we were still determined. This wasn’t a vacation house for us, but our only home and our livelihood. We own our own charter business, Day 5 Charters, so many of our assets were also in our home and our boats kept at a marina on the south end. We wanted to be here to save it. The kids brought some of their mattresses upstairs to camp out in the living room, they put everything else in the top bunks in their rooms. The fishing gear was attached to the roof of the garage. Nothing was left outside unless is was strapped down, and anything on our first floor was put upstairs or up high. That evening John and I took the dogs on a walk to the beach. We wore raincoats and joked about how mine wasn’t as waterproof as I hoped because indeed I was dripping with rainwater. We walked through the shallows and the puppies played and we laughed and held hands. I had no idea this moment of peace, this feeling of everything being normal and good, would end. I add this memory because I want to remember that feeling since now it seems gone for good.  of the storm we woke up to Ian being a Cat 5. Our family in town begged us to come stay with them. We were back and forth. The weather was already bad and I was afraid to travel in it. We packed bags and left a generator in the truck so we could make a last minute decision to leave. We waited too long. The worst of the weather was predicted to occur between 1 and 3pm with a severe storm surge afterward. Before 11am the bay was flooding into our street. By 11:15 it was to our door. By 11:45 it was to our waist. We were still on the front side of the storm and high tide wasn’t going to be until 4pm. This wasn’t even the real storm surge, yet. The night before our neighbors Mike and Evie, who live two doors down, had decided to leave the island. On the way out they stopped by our house to give us their keys and urged us to move to their place if we felt unsafe. It was on a higher lot and the house was well fortified. As we watched the water pour into our home at such an alarming rate, John made the executive decision to move us all before it was too late. He wrapped the baby in his arms, covering every inch of her he could. Our two teenage boys each had a smaller child on their back. And the rest of us trailed close behind as we waded through waist deep water and hurricane gusts, going as quick as we could but treading carefully as we tripped over submerged branches. I remember looking to my left up into Gary’s driveway and seeing his green mustang covered to the top of the wheel wells. I looked to my right to see our neighbor Ray standing outside his front door in his raincoat waving to us as we went. It felt surreal. We were pumped with adrenaline. We were standing in our neighbors guest house, soaking wet, and laughing at what we just did. Most of the kids were barefoot and in pj’s, except for Jimmy (5). For whatever reason when John made the call that we were leaving, Jimmy was already wearing heavy work boots, had a backpack on his front full of toys, and a second backpack on his back full of his shoes. This is one of the memories from that day that we all still laugh about. Dedrick (15) carried Jimmy and all his gear on his back and it was a funny sight. The boys went a second time to the house and back to get our 3 dogs. Then they went back a third time and each brought a case of water and a trash bag full of dry blankets. Somehow Anthony managed to bring his skim board as well. Not sure what the thought process was there, but he is a 14 year old boy and I don’t think I need to say more. They all had to swim on the last trip. On that third trip my husband begged my father, who was visiting at the time, to come with us. He refused. He couldn’t believe the water would actually get into our second floor. He didn’t want to trudge in the water like we just did. He’d rather go down with the ship. He planned to have a beer and take a nap. If anyone knows my dad, you would not be surprised at all by this response. John dragged a kayak into the dining room for him and left.

As we settled into our new spot, all still seemed ok. We yelled at the kids not to touch anything, got the dogs settled, and got back to our phones, trying to get weather reports and stay connected with our family, friends, and neighbors on and off island. The power for the street went out shortly after, but our new little stronghold had a automatic generator on the second story. We had a good view of the bay from our window and we watched as things from our street flowed like a river into it. We saw our kiddie pools go by, Nyias one sandal she lost on the trek over. Once the water from the gulf and the water from the bay connected the speed of it all picked up exponentially. We went from watching pool noodles and boogie boards sweeping into the bay to actual rooftops surfing on white caps. At that point wind gusts were getting scary and we sealed shut every shutter, including the one over the door. I was frantically texting our neighbors making sure they were okay, I was so worried about them, and hated that I couldn’t see what was going on outside anymore. We would hear loud noises, my neighbor Bev, who was on the opposite side of the street, would text things like “there’s hot tubs and a hot water tank coming down the street” or “there’s a boat beating against the garage door of the house you’re in” to help the sounds make sense. When we heard a loud whining sound we realized the car alarm to John’s truck was shorting out. It was parked at the highest point on our street just below us, and anyone whose seen the Day 5 truck knows you basically need a step ladder to get into it. Bev said the water was to the windows. At 2:20 we cracked a shutter to check on it and it was completely submerged. There was a rushing river outside. How could a house be in a rushing river? John saw a house floating down the bay, the wind picked it up and smashed it into pieces. This was when the panic started really setting in for me. We had finally lost power and water. The drains were gurgling with the sound of sewage needing to rush back. The wind was getting so strong that the doors started bowing out, even with the shutters there. More than once we rushed to them and held on to the handles until they locked back into place, making the kids get to the far side of the room. It was just so so loud for so so long. I thought, surely it will end soon, it’s been hours. I was frantically trying to get ahold of my dad. Sure enough, he was mopping the water as it came into the second story of our house. When the water got to 3-4 inches he said he started looking at that kayak John left for him, which was now floating in our dining room. Bev sent a message that said a house got wedged in the middle of the street and was acting like a damn. Looking back I truly think this is what saved us. We watched the clock tick by as we waited til high tide at 4pm. We prayed and asked God to protect us and our neighbors and our homes. The baby took a couple naps, the kids were playing and bickering, we fed them sandwiches, and meanwhile my husband and I are doing everything we can not to fall apart.How could we put our family in this situation? Our babies? The guilt and shame I felt for every decision I had made in the last 24 hours washed over me. I was constantly nauseous, every muscle I didn’t know I had completely tense, ready for fight or flight. Our cell service finally wonked out and we had no way of knowing what was happening. Why is the storm not leaving? Emergency alerts kept coming through to SHELTER IN PLACE, DANGEROUS WINDS. The house began vibrating and shaking with each gust now. I thought, “did we finally float away? Are we just sitting at the bottom of Estero bay right now?” A text finally got through to me, it was my sister in law, AB, in Fort Lauderdale. She said the storm backed off and was coming a second time. I thought “HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE.”

Update #3 - From Kate’s Facebook Page
October 15, 2022
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Update 3: from Kates Facebook Page - this will be posted in a couple updates due to how large it is…Dated 10/13/2022

Aft 2 weeks I am finally able to read through my journal entries of Hurricane Ian without crying. My heart still races through most of it, but I did want to share them with the people who have cared so much for my family during the hardest time of our lives. This was written within days of the events and though there may be some discrepancies (the official time of high tide still alludes me as I’ve seen other people recount it differently), this is my account and experience as I remember it. My time stamps come from text messages and posts I made that day. The whole thing is long, as stories from the day of, and the few days after the storm all deserve to be told. I will therefore share one day at a time and eventually put these in a blog so I can keep them together with pictures. Big hugs to you all, and #FMBSTRONG ❤️ Kate

September 27-28, 2022, Fort Myers Beach

There’s a lot of reasons we stayed. As we watched the weather forecast the week before Ian made landfall my family and I were actually on vacation at a different SWFL island, North Captiva. We ended our trip early as the storm neared, closed up and storm prepped the house for the owners there before we left, then headed back to our own island and home to storm prep again. We live on Fort Myers Beach, in the home my husband grew up in, which is now ours. Being Florida natives we had been through many hurricanes before.

Update #2 - John 10/3/22
October 3, 2022
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Here’s an update from John via Day 5 Charters Facebook Page…

Too many photos of the aftermath. Put on aftermath day five I finally have enough signal to share a few.  

thank you for all your prayers and love. It’s what got us through the night! And it’s continuing to get us through. Hoping we can rebuild! God is good! I trust him, He has never let us fall!

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!“ -Job

speaking of jobs, both my boats made it! Now the only vehicles I own only work on the water. Seems appropriate

Update from Kate - 10/1/2022
October 1, 2022
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Here is an update from Kate via her Facebook Page:

Hi friends and family. Gauntt tribe is all okay and accounted for. Yes we are traumatized. Yes we’ve lost everything. Both Day 5 Charters boats survived. Our island and the tourist industry for all of southwest Florida is devastated. We are still in shock.

Thank you all who have reached out. There is no cell service and I simply cannot respond. John and I love you and appreciate the concern and support you’ve extended to us. My children are being well taken care of. I’ve been working on writing down our experience for the last two days. It’s a lot but I’ll post it here when I finish.

Our immediate needs are vehicles, especially a truck that can tow heavy duty, living options and funds for living expenses while we try and salvage what we can of our home and business. Our home survived but had water into the second floor. The island is still closed as emergency crews continue to clear streets of debris and bodies. Once it does open we would love people to come help us gut our house. My mom lost everything as well. Please pray for all of SouthWest Florida. Recovery will take years.


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