The following is a firsthand account of a volunteer mission on Nov. 24, by Franklin Lakes Firefighter Joe Gallup:
The Franklin Lakes Volunteer Fire Department covered an 8-hour shift to respond to emergencies while Rockaway's first responders tended to their own homes, families and friends.
Power slowly returned to sections of the Queens, N.Y., community and as needed we secured utilities in severely damaged houses. Hundreds of residences are uninhabitable and over 80 burned down to there foundations during the storm surge.
Rockaway Point Fire Department was decimated by Hurricane Sandy along with many surrounding homes. The bay is 1,000 feet behind the fire house and the Atlantic Ocean is a quarter mile away.
The storm surge happened so quickly they were inundated by several feet of water within minutes. Many of their firefighters lost everything while rescuing their neighbors. Unfortunately, all their apparatus, turn out gear and support vehicles were damaged or destroyed.
Throughout the day our brothers, sisters and residents offered gracious appreciation for our support. Everyday a different Battalion from the New York Fire Department cooks for 2,000 people while off duty. Yesterday Battalion 17 was cooking for residents, first responders and volunteers.
Firefighter Tom Fahy made the arrangements and received approval from Chief Denny Knubel to take Engine 335 to Rockaway Point. Ex-Chief Chuck Bohny, Lt. J. Donch, Lt. Tom Pianettini, and Firefighters Tom Fahy, Conor Dinicola and myself volunteered to help provide coverage.
The Rockaway Point Community spirit was inspiring and amazing. We were proud to help our brothers and neighbors. The pictures are powerful and so are the people of Rockaway Point.
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