SOUTH HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was an unusual wildlife rescue on Long Island after volunteers spent days wading through murky water in South Huntington.

The effort saved thousands of fish and frogs, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Friday.

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When water gushed down Audrey Hampton’s block, she realized it was coming from a nearby sump that was being emptied.

“Knowing what’s in that sump, and knowing there were bullfrogs and goldfish, I knew that something had to be done,” Hampton said. “The living creatures that were in there and were being displaced from their home.”

Hampton’s school district was dredging the sump to stop dangerous neighborhood flooding. Hampton made them aware it was filled with wildlife.

“We really had to remedy this situation, but we also had another situation to remedy, and that was that wildlife,” said South Huntington School District Superintendent Dr. Vito D’Elia.

A unique collaboration followed. The district hatled the dredging, allowing Hampton and volunteers to save what was living there.

It was a filthy job with waist-high muck, at times. It was led by Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, saving buckets of pond life.

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“The animals would have been buried alive in there,” said founder John DiLeonardo. “They wouldn’t have survived… We found thousands of goldfish, tens of thousands of minnows and tadpoles… and hundreds of bullfrogs.”

Once rescued, the fish and frogs will live out their lives in ponds on private property.

The unusual rescue provided a lesson for students that a school district halted its work out of respect for living things.

“Really learning how wildlife is an important part of our community and how they need to have a safe place as well,” said D’Elia.

“To have reverence for all animals… and even if they’re tiny, they deserve to live,” said DiLeonardo.

“Being in a sump, in a boat, with dirt up to my thighs, it was pretty crazy,” Hampton said. “Mission accomplished indeed.”

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A few of them ended up in Hampton’s home – a lesson to her children that one person can make a difference.

Carolyn Gusoff