This Thanksgiving, we're heartened to see whole communities and local organizations, including businesses, scout troops and churches, coming together to support the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The response of the American Red Cross, which is working in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention, has been historic. More than 5,800 Red Cross workers, 90 percent of them volunteers from all 50 states, are supporting shelters, providing food and water to kitchens and fixed feeding sites in the devastated region. The food and relief supplies are made possible through the monetary donations of thousands of Americans.
Even as New Yorkers and New Jerseyites are dealing with the trauma of their devastating personal losses, which in many cases are total, stories continue to filter in about the individual acts of heroism of emergency responders who put their their own safety on the line for others.
On Staten Island, a number of people drowned after not heeding a mandatory evacuation order.
Braving the fierce winds and storm surge, New York Police officers rescued many others who became stranded during the height of the storm. Officers saved over 1,100 Staten Island residents, even while facing threats all around them, including exploding transformers and the danger of live wires in the water.
The New York Fire Department also did heroic service. Some were aiding victims even as their own homes were burning in the conflagration that swept through sections of Queens and the Rockaways.
here was also the story of Russ Gehweiler Jr. and his girlfriend Tracey Keelen, two professional lifeguards who helped evacuate 40 to 50 people from their flood-ravaged New Jersey neighborhood. As the pair was "doing laps" of the neighborhood in search of victims, they came across a family of four, including children aged 3 and 5, as well as the family dog.
The lifeguards used a canoe they found along the way to help rescue the cold, exhausted family from the flooded neighborhood. The two lifeguards then kept on going, searching for more victims.
There was also the story of Mavis Doozie, 36, a trained nurse for the Visiting Nurse Association, the largest home health, hospice and community care provider in New Jersey. Until Sandy swept across New Jersey, she had never delivered a baby. Although her own field of expertise is telemetry and community health, Doozie learned by watching her mother, a midwife and nurse in her native Ghana, deliver babies while growing up.
Doozie was one of many nurses who took to the streets almost immediately after Sandy stormed through, searching for those with special needs, such as the elderly and disabled. When driver Qaadir Brooks and the expectant mother, Charmanina Florence, was affected by traffic gridlock caused by Sandy's power outages, Doozie didn't hesitate to help the stranded couple. After delivering an 8-pound baby in the front seat of a station wagon at a traffic-choked intersection in southwest Newark, she then directed traffic to get mother and child safely to the hospital.
The grateful family of the newborn called Doozie "a blessing." Doozie credits her faith for being in the right place at the right time.
There are numerous other stories we've heard about of storm victims being aided by their own personal angels who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
By Jim Zbick