This might be long, so if you want to skip the words, cut to the chase and continue helping, please go to the bottom. My church is a 501c charity. Every penny donated is used for the cause right here, nothing is wasted on management or overhead.
To all my family, friends, customers, and complete strangers that were willing to trust me with their stuff to help others: I need to give Thanks and Apologize.
First off, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! The donations of necessities either to Sea Tech directly or to New Hope Ministries were 100% put to the right places all over SWFL. Some necessities made it to areas it would help the most just in the nick of time. I didn’t even publicly ask for help yet and supplies were already showing up at my shop, thank you! Y’all said we could “borrow” your generators, gas cans, and propane tanks. I told everyone trying to help that “I can’t guarantee I can get your stuff back” – Not one person changed their mind knowing this. Some very nice generators too! Logistics was such a nightmare with very little communications on Pine Island and other places, we were losing precious time. I trusted people that Kelly Larkin, Floyd Pancoast , and Joe Amber Lanktree knew on the island. Other people at the boat ramps that didn’t know me from Adam and trusted me with their equipment to keep the efforts going. Specifically Nate McMurtrie
The north end of Pine Island never got the media coverage it deserved. The south end was flooded with storm surge the losses were greater. The remaining houses that stood, lost a lot. Most notably their refrigerators, and generators were destroyed by salt water. The north end lost roofs, lanais, and all that you see in the news. Thankfully, not the major storm surge like the south end. Everyone lost electricity! I can confidently say most everyone on the entire island was stocked up and ready for this! Not the first time they would have gone weeks without electricity – we are no strangers to hurricanes. However, no one was ready for the ONLY road to the island to be washed away. The north end still had everything they needed but ran out of gas for their generators because they could not drive to the mainland for fuel. The boats that could help in closest communities couldn’t because most boat lifts were destroyed or no power to lower the boat in the water to help.
My first trip to the island to help; the first thing I noticed was no generators running. Funny, I used to be annoyed by that sound after a week of no power at my house during the night. I’ll never be annoyed by the sound of a running generator again.
Bottom line: We moved just over 3,300 gallons of fuel to Pine Island, a few generators, propane tanks, and also with the help of Cory Dearduff , we were able to deploy two Starlink satellite terminals for real internet. This helped tremendously with communication for understanding needs and coordination of on-island people to help us off load the boats.
My deepest apologies to those I hung up on in frustration or couldn’t make a timely connection with. Or people who need to get the pain off their chest and I didn’t have time to hear it. Communication was extremely difficult as most cell towers were destroyed and I only had a few minutes to make a lot of calls when I was near a Star Link terminal. A lot of lessons were learned in this storm that I’ll know better for next time.
So many people wanted to help but really couldn’t because of work or now-untrustworthy vehicles that were flooded by saltwater surge or whatever. My shortness with you because I needed very specific help, unlike the rest of the efforts by other charities, made my phone time very limited. Everyone including myself had lost something, some more than others. The stress of this. The stress of trying to help. My trying to solve a problem nobody else was addressing in a certain area that was being ignored. I couldn’t get officials to see and were literally hindering our efforts caused me to be short with everyone. So again, I’m sorry to everyone, those with the best of intentions especially.
I can tell you for certain what New Hope Ministries and my crew at Sea Tech and all those that helped and trusted us made a huge impact. It literally kept food from being lost. Had we not received the support as fast as we did, many people on the north end of pine island would have become another place that needed food distribution brought to them, instead, because of you, they were more self-sufficient than a lot of other areas!
My heart goes out to so many people that lost everything. Even loved ones. I can’t thank everyone enough, those that helped me make our little campaign work. I never imagined what I was doing would turn into this enormous blessing. God put me in the right place with the right people at the right time for a reason!
I’m trying to remember everyone that gave us generators, gas cans, propane tanks etc… I tried to write names on items, but gasoline is a good solvent for sharpie . I bet I’ll be able to get over 80% of the items back to the donors. Most of the people we supplied fuel to didn’t need the container, just the contents. The generators went to people that had theirs stop running, and will gladly give the borrowed generator back and fix theirs for next time. Everyone I interacted with on the island were amazing people. They would do the same for you! The “looting” on the island is BS fake news. I know this first hand.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn, (I’m not on social media much as I think so much of it is mostly about personal vanity) but I need to give thanks and show you the efforts made by everyone. I’m so proud of my employees. While most of my crew was helping with moving fuel from the mainland to Pine Island, we had others helping supply food and even our own shop’s refrigerator went to help a nearby elementary school. The boats we used to transfer fuel had to be small enough to get around the debris in the canals yet fast enough to cross Charlotte Harbor from Burnt Store Marina to Pineland Marina in decent time. The harbor was so wavey by mid-afternoon. I wish we took pictures to show you, but the mission came first. We were so salty, wet, and cold by the end of the day, but nobody complained. Imagine driving back 1¼ hours to Naples at 9pm soaking wet and having the heat on in our trucks while it’s 85 degrees out. Then we have hundreds of gallons to fill in our transfer tanks and as many 5 gallon cans in our trucks that we could fit. We had plentiful fuel in Naples, but Ft Myers had hours of waiting on lines. It took hours to fill everything at the pumps, then we also had to deal with the 10pm curfew! Most of us got home at midnight, just to get up at 6am to make the best use of the daylight and keep doing this every day until Honc Marine Contracting, Inc. and DeMoya group undertook to enormous task of temporary patching the one road to the island so supplies could get there much faster. Absolutely amazing they fixed the road in 7 days when the government said it would take months! There is so much more to the story including my lower unit on my outboard exploding from the loads. I could barely get my boat on plane with so many gas cans and supplies. Within 3 hours, I had a bolt-on ready-to-go replacement lower unit and was able to make one last run that day. Normally that repair would have
taken weeks! Thank you Justin Titus ! That dude even sent the tools needed with the lower unit anticipating I might not have everything I needed to get the outboard fixed right away! There are so many more facets to this story, I could write a book. I know this is a long message and it’s only the tip of the iceberg! Other people that helped with coordination efforts include Kempton Rimes Sr. , Steven Thigpen, Justin Wallace , Bill D’Antuono , and many, many more.
Email email@example.com with what you have sent to the shop, please. It will help remind me and make a more accurate list.
If you wish to financially contribute to continue helping, please click on this link below for New Hope Ministries. Any monetary gifts to Sea Tech will be forwarded to New Hope Ministries (we at Sea Tech are not a charity and $$ makes a logistic nightmare for us). If you prefer to get a tax break personally (and why not), we’ll send the monies given to Sea Tech Marine back to you so that you’re giving it to a 501(c) directly that can give you the necessary paperwork for your tax returns. All of our efforts were in mutual connection with our church!
The link for directly donating to it local efforts is here:
God bless you and my heartfelt thanks as well. You are all awesome people!!!
Most of these gas cans are from the local people on the island. It was all we could do to get containers to move fuel! At the time you couldn’t find a new gas can for sale and if you could, it was $40 just for one! They didn’t know if they would get their cans back or someone else’s cans. Didn’t matter, nobody was hording supplies either.
A few of my guys. So proud of the tireless effort!
Derek Marsh , that fuel dolly helped so much and he also gave us money to help fill them up as well! Notice the double pump going on. After curfew …. Once the Racetrac manager understood what we were doing he kept the pumps on for us. Took almost an hour to fill just this truck load. The rest of the gas station employees left for the night and he kept the pumps running just for us. Also the fuel transfer pump on the left side of the truck bed from a total stranger, now good friend from the east coast Nate McMurtrie.
Steve’s ActionCraft could only hold 18 cans safely, but man could he get from A to B fast!
JP and Cory about done changing my lower unit. Three hours from failure to fixed thanks to Justin Titus ! My boat can hold about 30 cans and still just get on plane but at the expense of the lower unit of my outboard. Steve’s boat could hold half as much but is twice as fast, so probably same amount of supplies. Didn’t matter how bad Charlotte Harbor was, we just kept it going.
A first day run before y’all kicked in with the supply of gas cans. Amazing the response from everyone! In Naples, we had power back relatively soon and everyone I asked gave me their now-not-needed at the moment gas cans! I can’t thank all of you enough!
JP’s personal truck helping the cause. Large fuel transfer tanks from the bed of the trucks used to fill the 5 gallon cans. Propane tanks were needed too. Grill and fill on the east trail in Naples filled the tanks and cut me a huge break on the price. Please support them and thank them for me.
Another earlier load. First StarLink terminal about to be set up.
Couldn’t fit one more thing. Hated to leave Naples with full gas cans at the shop, but we had to roll.
Joe Amber Lanktree ‘s house missing a lot of his roof. But a good central point on the north end of pine island for the first StarLink spot. Communication got much better after this and the supply chain increased dramatically because of it.
South end. St James City. Storm surge was 6ft higher than the north end of the island.
Typical scenery across the entire island at the moment.