Cops Return To Breezy Point 5 Years After Helping Sandy Victims Rebuild

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A storm is expected hit on Sunday, the 5-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.

Its effects are still felt today, but along with the losses, there are still untold stories of generosity and heroism.

When storm waters ravaged her Breezy Point home, Joanne D’Ambrosi didn’t know how she alone would remove tons of soaked possessions walls and floors.

She didn’t have to look far for help.

“They pulled down walls, they moved furniture, pulled up tiles,” she said.

‘They’ were colleagues at the NYPD where she works as an administrative aide. They quickly formed an impromptu team. From crime fighting, they morphed into a demolition unit. Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and beyond reported to a different kind of war zone.

“Their day to day is keeping us safe from terror, but in a natural disaster like this here they were out here helping to rebuild homes,” Lt. Tarik Sheppard told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

Their pre-policing skills from carpentry to plumbing were put to work in Queens and Staten Island.

“It was almost like we were full time contractors and construction workers out here,” Sheppard said.

He said he had no construction skills, but offered up his hands and his heart.

“When that knock came at the door someone broke down crying and said, ‘you’re really going to help me?” he said.

Officer Nancy Chinchilla-Burroughs was pregnant with twins at the time. She went door to door bringing supplies.

“It was heartbreaking, I’d never seen anything like this in all my years living in New York,” she said.

Soon they were helping not only police offices, but their neighbors too in the hardest hit locations. Eleven cops helped 500 homes.

Their unit was informally dubbed the red hats as they weathered the cold.

On Friday they returned to the scene.

They found that although lives and homes are still a work in progress, the red hats went back to fighting crimes as officers with varied skill sets are ready for the next disaster.

 

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