When faced with tragedy, some heroes in our communities, rather than shying away, head straight into to the heart-stoppingly painful scene and spend countless hours and days giving of themselves to help others pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
Wading River resident Paul Halvorsen, a communications specialist with the New York City Fire Department who also lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, has spent the past week helping in the Rockaways, in areas including Broad Channel and Belle Harbor, Queens, communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy as scores of homes were swept away by the storm's wrath.
Firemen watched helplessly as scores of homes burned, unable to get there in time with flood waters rising, engines and ladders stalling, and high winds blowing the fire out of control.
The YouTube video Halversen shot depicts Beach 130th Street between Newport and Cronston Streets in the Belle Harbor section of Rockaway, Queens, an area that has seen a lifetime of devastation -- on Nov. 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed, killing all 260 onboard and five on the street. The homes were rebuilt -- only to be lost again, during Hurricane Sandy.
On the same street, during Hurricane Sandy, a gas leak led to the loss of 16 homes and a restaurant.