Colton Gustin: His brothers answered the Hurricane Ian call – ’14 FIT

Colton Gustin recalled a bit of wisdom he heard in college, “a fraternity is a lot like a bank. You get more out than you put in. You just don’t know when it’s going to happen.”

For Colton, it happened after one of the most destructive hurricanes in years slammed into Florida… and his neighborhood.

In the Eye of the Hurricane

Colton lives in North Port about 30 miles inland from the coast. As Ian approached, an alumni classmate, Tony Berber, called to see if he could “ride out the storm” at Colton’s house. Colton joked, “at least we could crack a beer together. If the power is going to black out, I guess we might as well too.”

Ian did its worst, rolling through Florida and ravaging the inland. North Port was directly in its path. As if that wasn’t enough, dams collapsed and flooded the area.

Though the storm tore down his trees, knocked out his fence, flooded streets, and left them without water and power for days, Colton considered himself fortunate. “I didn’t get it nearly as bad as some of my neighbors. Several employees and some of my family experienced some major losses”

About one in three houses in the area were left uninhabitable. NPR recently covered the damage in the neighborhood.

Brothers to the Rescue

Colton recalled, “Soon after cell service returned, I got a message from undergrad brothers saying they have 12 guys and two trucks who can come and help. They offered to bring water, fuel, food and whatever else I needed.”

Colton was blown away by the offer. He had served on the chapter advisory board for years, but hadn’t been heavily involved since getting married and starting a family. 

He said, “I graduated in 2014. Hurricane Ian hit 2022. Despite there being an eight-year gap, brothers who didn’t even know me were willing to drop what they were doing to come and assist me and my family. I don’t know if there is a better example of fraternalism out there.”

Colton (right) demonstrates his fierce competitive nature as an undergrad

What’s next

After Colton is through helping his friends, family and employees sort through what remains from Ian’s wake, he’ll return to his job as a mechanical engineer who designs swimming pools up and down the east coast for Aquatech Pools.

But he’ll always be touched by true brotherhood that was demonstrated in the worst of times, “Not four years but a lifetime, has never proven to be so honest.“