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Belle Harbor Man Who Saved Neighbors During Sandy To Launch Charitable Foundation

Mike McDonnell (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

Mike McDonnell (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

Superstorm Sandy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Belle Harbor man who rescued six of his neighbors from flooding and fire right as superstorm Sandy hit two weeks ago continues to offer a lifeline to residents of the hard-hit Queens neighborhood.

As of last week, Mike McDonnell was living in his pickup truck because his home was lost in the storm.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports

Now, he is living at the New York Budget Inn on 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan, where he sometimes has to share a room with other Sandy survivors.

But the lifelong resident of Beach 130th Street in the Rockaways said despite his current homelessness, he will start a non-profit he has named the Bridgerope Foundation For The Rockaways.

On the night Sandy struck, McDonnell said he quickly sprung to action as his watched a massive fire break out amid all the flooding from Sandy.

“I saw that three homes were on fire. One of the gas lines erupted and a ball of cinders came blowing over the house,” McDonnell told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman last week.

McDonnell carried six of his neighbors one by one on his back to the house next door. But as the flames spread, McDonnell had to think quickly to save his neighbors.

He used extension cords to make a rope ladder to help his neighbors climb to safety.

Another neighbor, Dylan Smith, paddled up with his surf board to help everyone make it across the street. All six people made it safely across the street and away from the burning homes.

McDonnell said he has since been given the opportunity to speak at a school and pose a thought-provoking question to the students.

“So now I want to use this platform,” McDonnell told Silverman. “What would you grab if you were given four minutes before being pulled out of a burning building?”

McDonnell has survived 60 skin cancer surgeries, Silverman reported. But the man who has been dubbed a hero said he is committed to rebuilding the Rockaways regardless of his situation.

“I’m single, I can walk around with a duffel bag on my back and be happy.”

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