NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Hurricane Sandy hero who rescued hundreds of people from their homes on Staten Island is now homeless.
“It was the right thing to do, that’s why we did it,” Pete Vadola told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.
Vadola rescued some 200 people from their Midland Beach homes using a small motorboat, but lost his own home to a fire two weeks ago.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, this is miserable,” he said.
Vadola said his wife accidentally turned a stove burner on, while reaching for a dog treat before leaving the house for a family dinner. A fan blew a towel onto the burner and sparked a destructive chain reaction of flames.
“It’s totaled,” Vadola said. “Whatever the fire didn’t get, the water got.”
The fire wasn’t just heartbreaking for Vadola and his family, it impacted neighbors, too.
“I was literally crying out here. As a matter of fact, I’ve got some tears right now,” neighbor Richard Camp said. “I can’t believe it could happen to somebody like that.”
Vadola pumped 8 feet of water out of Camp’s basement following the storm.
Vadola was there for the community, and now the community is there for him.
“I wanted to do as much as I could. We all did. All of the neighbors were out that day, everybody was upset, everybody cried with him,” Betty Volsario said.
Vadola said he appreciates the support and that it will take more than a storm or a fire to push him out of his home.
“We’re going to overcome it, bigger and better is the plan,” Vadola said.
Vadola has insurance, but neighbors are still continuing to collect money for his family. Vadola has two sons, the youngest was born just 10 days after Sandy.
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