New City volunteer firefighters woke up early Sunday morning on a mission.
About 15 firefighters, along with some of their family members, met at the New City firehouse on Maple Avenue at 6 am, set to deliver four truckloads of donated food and cleaning supplies, among other items, to , residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The trucks were filled over the past week by a constant flow of donations from the local area that streamed into the New City firehouse during a weeklong relief drive organized by the volunteers. In addition to receiving donations from New City residents, firefighters said donations came streaming in from across Rockland County and from residents in other counties and even from other states.
"The donated material that came from residents was more than we could have ever imagined," said New City Fire Department Chief Kenny Flynn. "It was a sight to see. The organization and work that my members, their wives, children and even several members of the public, provided by giving their time to this effort was incredible. In all, we had almost 40 skids to unload."
As the trucks rolled into Breezy Point, they made their first stop at a retired Army warehouse at Fort Tilden to unload the majority of the donations. Even as the trucks were being emptied, a steady flow of storm-stunned residents came in and out of the distribution area, leaving with bleach, scrub brushes or food to get them through the day.
Several pallets were also delivered directly to the Point Breeze Fire Department to assist them getting back in service, and in turn, return to help their community.
Once the donations were unloaded, the New City firefighters went to several damaged houses to assist Breezy Point homeowners in the clean up.
"The amount of damage here is unreal," said Flynn. "Several houses we were at had watermarks about 8 feet above the ground, the water just inundated the area. The largest and most immediate need these folks have now is to remove their wet belonings, rip out the wet sheetrock and try to clean it as best as they can to avoid mold growing inside the walls. They need bodies here to do this."
Organizations including the FDNY, Habitat for Humanity and others have begun organizing work crews in an effort to assist residents cleaning out their homes.
"Many of my members have expressed an interest in returning to the area to continue cleaning out homes," Flynn said. "The people here are thankful for our help. They just want to clean up and start putting their lives back together.