“Total devastation” - an extraordinary story in two minutes



Don was lucky.  His is one of the last houses left standing on his street in Belle Harbor, NY.  At the height of Superstorm Sandy there was a five foot surge of water rushing down his street.  Then, in the middle of the storm a fire sparked in a neighbor’s house and by the next day most of his block was in ashes.

"The fire started around the corner… and with the wind, blowing so much it was just like a blow torch from one house to the next house."

Don is a retired firefighter from NY City and he has lived in his house for 41 years.  "It's a middle class neighborhood comprised mostly of... cops, firemen, sanitation, teachers...."

The community lost 37 first responders in 9/11.  It’s a neighborhood of ordinary, hard working Americans and they’ve all had their lives turned upside down by Superstorm Sandy.

“There was a new born infant across the street, two houses down, Jimmy O’connor went over and got her and held the baby over his head while he walked through the water.”

"...during the storm, young man from up the block, was evacuating people on a surfboard because the water was so high... we have elderly, we have infirmed.  So, he came by and took them out.  Brought them to safety.

The neighborhood came together to protect each other during and after the storm.  But when it comes to the future, Don says he’s supports making choices that will protect his grandchildren from what’s happened to his community.

"If you come down here in two years... you're not going to see the devastation, you're going to see people laughing and smiling.  That's temporary.  With the carbon emissions and everything else, that's the future.  I have six grandkids.  I need to see them grow up in a place where they'll be able to breath without a problem, where the air is gonna be right... and if all these things cost a little bit more then that's fine.  It's the price we have to pay for helping people down the road, that's not a problem."

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