LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Five firefighters from Long Beach who were laid off over the summer amid budget cuts have their jobs back, thanks in part to Sen. Charles Schumer.
Long Beach had just 25 full-time firefighters on the payroll when superstorm Sandy struck.
The flooding and the fires in the town of 33,000 that night not only made rescues a perilous venture but the department’s own equipment was either badly damaged or destroyed, CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported.
Schumer helped secure a $910,000 grant from the federal government to allow the Long Beach Fire Department to reinstate five young firefighters for the next two years.
“We are not going to abandon these communities. We are going to do everything we can to prepare them for the next storm,” Schumer said on Saturday. “God forbid if there’s another storm, now that the dunes are gone and unprotected, even a smaller storm could create damage. Thank God these five firefighters will be here.”
The rescue effort on Long Beach got an assist from some of these laid off firefighters and some other volunteers, Langford reported.
“Two of our volunteers firefighters with an inflatable boat threw a portable pump in it and they walked, pulling the boats with hose and a pump to try to put water on this fire,” Long Beach Fire Commissioner Scott Kemins said.
“These guys never abandoned us, they never abandoned their citizens, they never abandoned the city,” said Long Beach Fire Chief Richard Corbett.
The reinstatement of these firefighters comes as elected officials from New York are struggling to make the larger case for help from Washington.
“So now we want the rest of the country to stand by New York,” Schumer said.
Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with Congressional leaders to appeal for $10 billion in federal funding to help cover damage from Sandy.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sandy cost the state nearly $37 billion in damage and that he will appeal for all of that to be covered by the federal government.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo put the total cost of Sandy for the state at $32 billion.
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