They don’t like to be called heroes, but they are.
Amid the tragedy, the death, the destruction and the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, their stories have provided glimmers of hope. These are the daring rescues, heartbreaking sacrifices and medical miracles that will restore your faith in humanity as you wait hours in line for gasoline or fight your way onto an overcrowded bus.
Some victims of the storm were law enforcement officers and first responders who lost their lives trying save others. Off-duty NYPD Officer Artur Kasprzak drowned after rescuing several members of his own family in their Staten Island home. Volunteer firefighter Lt. Russell Neary was killed by a falling tree while responding to a fire in Connecticut.
Local law enforcement agencies have been hit particularly hard in some areas, and they are working tirelessly to hold their communities together—fighting fires, preventing looting and evacuating victims to safety.
“Thirty-three years as a police officer and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Little River Police Chief Ralph Verdi told HLN’s Nancy Grace Thursday. Verdi is coordinating evacuation and relief efforts in a New Jersey town where he estimated about 75% of residents still do not have gas or power.
Not all heroes wore uniforms, however. Staten Island resident Iqbal Mughal rescued a man from rising flood waters in his neighborhood. Also on Staten Island, Robert Sadowski saved three neighbors and their pets from flooding, according to the Staten Island Advance.
Doctors and nurses struggled with limited resources in seemingly impossible conditions as the rain and wind poured down on them. Dr. Herman Morchel of Hackensack University Medical Center delivered a baby in a church hallway when an expectant mother’s ambulance was unable to get to the hospital.
“We moved all the equipment from our emergency mobile trauma unit into the church hall. So essentially, you know, we made the church hall into an emergency trauma department using the equipment from the mobile unit,” Morchel explained to Grace, describing the birth as a “fairly standard delivery,” despite the circumstances.
Mothers of premature babies like Jo-An Tremblay-Shepherd and Margaret Chu have praised the nurses and rescue workers who evacuated their children in darkness after NYU Langone Medical Center lost power in the middle of the storm.
“Really my heart goes to them,” Tremblay-Shepherd said of the NICU nurses who saved her son. “They’re the ones that really stepped up to the plate. It was an emergency situation, and they did what they do best.”
Others have displayed their generosity in simpler ways. Theresa Howard of hard-hit Hoboken, New Jersey held a “power party” in her neighborhood to allow those who had lost power to charge their cell phones and electronic devices. Howard is also working to bring batteries and other supplies to neighbors in need.
Brooklyn resident Andrew Gounardes is collecting toys for local children whose homes were destroyed by floods.
“We’re just trying to help some of the families and some of the kids who are now in shelters all across Brooklyn, you know, at least have some semblance of a normal life,” Gounardes, who is running for State Senate, told Nancy Grace Thursday.
San Francisco resident Ryan Noland is flying to New York to help with relief efforts after hearing what his friends and their families there are going through.
“I just felt that it was my calling to really contribute and to give back to a city that I lived in and love dearly,” Noland said.
There are many more who are worthy of recognition: the utility workers struggling day and night to restore power to millions left in the dark by the storm; the crews working nonstop to get major cities’ public transportation systems back up and running; the National Guard troops providing assistance in storm-ravaged communities; the Red Cross volunteers offering shelter to thousands displaced by floods.
Countless similar stories have been reported along the East Coast in recent days. Who are the heroes who inspired you this week? Tell us below.
Find out how you can help the victims of the storm.