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Neighbors Come To Aid Of Rockland County Widow Hit By Flooding

Christine Laffey (credit: CBS 2)

Christine Laffey (credit: CBS 2)

Lou Young headshot Lou Young
A native New Yorker, Lou Young joined CBS 2 in June 1994. He has...
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Irene

WEST NYACK, N.Y. (CBS 2) — A Rockland County woman says she is so grateful after a small army of neighbors rushed to her aid following the recent hurricane-driven floods. A group of strangers came together to do something remarkable for the widowed mother of two.

Christine Laffey is able to smile again after the flood. It is a sharp contrast to the tears that filled her days in West Nyack immediately after Hurricane Irene last month.

“I had a massive clean up here. I had to do everything and there was only me and my two kids,” Laffey told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Laffey’s husband died six years ago from cancer and their two children are now teenagers.

Laffey runs a daycare center, which, along with part of her house, was underwater, leaving her in deep trouble. She didn’t know who to ask for help, so she made up a sign that read “please help” and went public with it.

Linda Darcee is one of more than 60 neighbors that descended on the place after Laffey put up her sign. She helped haul trash, clear debris, pitch mulch and clean toys and equipment.

“I don’t really, personally, know her as a friend. This is just — here is a person who needs help, whose livelihood has been jeopardized by the storm,” Darcee said.

There were so many volunteers, neighbor Michael Carney used his construction experience to split them into teams. Many jobs, though, were done by people who never came forward to be identified.

“People stopped and picked up laundry -- took it home, cleaned it, brought it back cleaned and folded and I never met any of those people,” Carney said.

When asked if she expected a response, Laffey said “No. Not the response I got — that’s for sure.”

Laffey’s daycare center is back in business. Toys and equipment are now sanitized, the house re-wired and a new hot water heater was installed. Laffey said she got a valuable life lesson out of the experience.

“The bottom line is, all that stuff I lost was worth it — to go through the experience I did,” she said. “It feels good to be kind to people and it feels really good to have people to be kind to you.”

Do you have inspirational story of a community coming together after the flooding?  Tell us in the comments section…