NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Heroes are made, not born — it’s a phrase that certainly seems to apply to one Staten Island Man.
There was five feet of water in the streets of Midland Beach after Sandy stormed in. Pete Vadola, a 28-year-old, who is neither a cop nor a firefighter nor a rescue worker, saw a boat and knew it was time to help.
“We found a boat — a motor boat,” he told CBS 2’s Steve Langford. “The boat was there. It was there for a reason.”
When Vadola piloted his new-found, 8-seat vessel of mercy to pick up some family friends, the pleas for help began to echo loudly through the streets turned canals.
“Oh my cousin’s at this address, my husband’s at that address. What do you do? We got back in the boat and we went back,” Vadola said.
Anthony Battaglia and his entire family were rescued by Vadola and his friends.
“Took my mother, my father, my sisters, me, my dog, my wife — everybody. Took anybody they could,” Battaglia said. “This whole neighborhood they went to, anywhere they could get people screaming at them through windows — ‘Come back, I’m pregnant,'” Battaglia said.
One of Vadola’s rescue buddies, Dale Mapp, is still haunted by the stark and urgent need for help that day.
“I climbed through a window and grabbed an infant and handed him down out the window,” said Mapp.
Pete Vadola had just moved into his home a few days before Sandy struck and his wife was just days away from giving birth to their second child.
“Thank God. I’m good — my son was born happy, healthy,” Vadola said.
That may explain how Vadola prioritized the hundreds of rescue requests.
“Anybody with kids, we went to. Any house with kids,” Vadola said.
Vadola was certainly remembered at more than a few dinner tables this Thanksgiving day.
“They’re definitely think about him in their prayers because he helped a lot of people out, did the right thing,” Battaglia said.
Vadola, now known as Captain Pete, and his rescue team may have ferried as many as two hundred people to dry land the day after Sandy flooded Midland Beach.
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