Hurricane Sandy: Second Trip, One Month Later…(Part 1)

I returned from New York early Tuesday morning, and unfortunately wasn’t able to get much rest before work at 8AM. Tuesday also ended up being a busy day at work with several calls including a working fire. Even though I enjoy helping in New York, it was really nice to be back home.

There is no place like home.

 

Our group consisted of personnel from North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland, and even Canada! We worked along side members from FDNY once again, and had a coordinated game plan to get as much accomplished in the small amount of time we had to work. I truly don’t believe that people understand that there are houses that STILL haven’t been touched. These are houses that have mold growing in the walls, and some of these, people are still living in. The attitudes of the residents are positive, and they know that there is hope.

This trip was similar as far as demo work that we completed, but it felt more personal to me. I believe part of that may have been the atmosphere that my brother, Barry Carr, brought with us. He is our Chaplain at the fire department, and it was a pleasure to have him with us. We were able to provide the residents with prayer in their homes. Prayers are needed.

This trip we had 19 volunteers, many of which had never met before. I had gathered up 6 others from Tennessee, and prior to the trip, I only knew 2 of them. We met new friends, and these friendships will last a lifetime. After spliting up into different work crews during the day, we would conversate around the house in the evening and talk about how things are back home.

We once again stayed in the house of FF Steven Coakley, Engine 217, who passed away on 9/11. It was very emotional once again to stay in the house, and a little tight with that many people. The Poulin’s took great care of us by organizing our work plans, coordinating the meals, and being sure we were taken care of.

We were able to collect donations from various organizations in the area that made the entire trip possible. We were able to raise enough money to give numerous gift cards to residents, and cover the cost of fuel/ van rental. We are so thankful for Victory Van Rentals, Higher Ground Baptist Church, Marion Life-Saving Crew, Millenium Auto Collision, Salsaritas, and all the other individuals that contributed. I can assure you that your donations made an impact on the community in New York and made our trip possible.

My crew worked in Staten Island the first day. We were told we had to go help tear a “deck” off of a house. We arrived to find a house that had been completly gutted, and the entire back yard was a deck! Mike, a retired FDNY member, was the resident there, and we were able to talk to him about his story.

The house had been in his family for over 80 years. He lived over a mile from the ocean, so he had no flood insurance. He told us about how he had 6 feet of water in his bottom floor and received a check for a WHOPPING $5,000. He lost his entire house and that is what the check was written for.

Thats it.

It amazes me that so much damage can be done, and these people have no personal belongings left. Mike was in high spirits though, and said that he would get through it. What was first thought to be a “deck,” ended up being an entire back yard of wood. Not just wood, but Trex composite decking.

This stuff was tough and heavy. We had a crew of around 7 and worked the majority of the day on removing it. While we didn’t totally finish removing the deck, we did complete the majority of it. There is still more work to be done though.

After finishing up for the day in Staten Island, our crew traveled over to Breezy Point. This is where the 80+ houses burnt, and I took the guys down to the burnt out area.

It is breath taking. This was my second time visiting, and I was still speechless.

Houses had burnt completely down, and they only had the foundation left. Some household items still remained, but they were ruined.

It was a sight that I wanted my crew to witness, and they had the same reaction as I.

We finished up the evening at the house. The guys presented me with a challenge coin set for the work that I had put in to the trip. I was speechless. I don’t do any of this for any recognition, but I did appreciate the gesture. This photo is with Pete Baretsky from Charlotte Fire, who presented the coin to me.

I’m on shift today, so I will follow up on this article later.