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Broad Channel To Madison: THANK YOU!!!!!!

"I really can't stress enough how grateful we are to Madison for this donation," says BCVFD EMT Tracy Moccio. "I really, really can't ... "

 

Updated:

The ambulance has been delivered! Thanks to Kathy for uploading the photos!

Original story:

At the height of Hurricane Sandy, fierce rip currents invaded the streets of Broad Channel, a little spit of an island on Big Egg Marsh in Jamaica Bay, in the borough of Queens, NY.

An evacuation order issued the day before the storm was ignored by many of the town's residents, who are used to being surrounded by water. Several thousand people make up the small community, which is about 20 blocks long and four blocks wide, and is sometimes referred to as the "Venice of New York."

Still, that night, as dusk turned to darkness, as the howling of the wind became shrieks, as the storm surge rose to impossible heights, the resolve of town residents who planned to tough it out faltered. Phone calls flooded into the local fire department from terrified residents, fear and desperation in their voices, wanting to be rescued from the second floors of their homes.

The volunteer firefighers and EMTs from the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department (BCVFD) headed out in the worst of it and managed to rescue more than 30 of their neighbors before the storm overtook them, endangering their lives. Rip currents in the streets grabbed on to one of the volunteers, and they had to save one of their own. 

As the waters continued to rise, Tracy Moccio, a BCVFD EMT, was with the ambulance crew ordered to the highest point in town, the American Legion Hall on Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel. As the EMTs raced up to the top floor of the two-story brick building, the ambulances were inundated with water and "drowned," Moccio said.

"We were in the hall at that point," Moccio said. "We were on the second floor and the water came all the way up. It was very, very, very scary. There was no power, there was wind, there were power lines coming down all over." Some of the EMTs thought that maybe that was it for them.

But Moccio, reflecting the attitudes of her fellow volunteer firefighters and EMTS, in her town and all over, said it never was an option to abandon the town, even though there was a mandatory evacuation order. "Even if there were only two people left, we weren't going anywhere," she said.

It was Hurricane Sandy that eventually forced the fire company to temporarily suspend its operations, after the storm broke an air line on a fire truck, and the truck shorted out and caught on fire. For hours, several members of the fire company were unaccounted for and their fellow volunteers feared the worst, Moccio said. When communication was eventually re-established, they were relieved to learn no one had been lost. No one from the fire company, and no one from the town.

Other communities were not so lucky. The death toll from Sandy stands at 196.

At Broad Channel, the volunteer fire company's equipment and headquarters had been decimated. And there is nothing worse than being an EMT without an ambulance following a disaster, when so many need so much, Moccio said.

"Oh my God, it was killing us," she said. "Killing us."

And so she was thrilled to get the call from Madison, CT earlier this month, letting her know that one of our town's old ambulances would soon be on its way to replace one of the two drowned by Sandy. There have been other donations as well and by Thursday afternoon Broad Channel EMTs, once the ambulance from Madison is delivered, will be back up to two.

The ambulance left the commuter lot in Madison around 9 a.m. Thursday, packed with goods donated by people in town, along with two other trailers packed with donated goods, and a small army of men and a woman, volunteers from Madison Ambulance Association, Madison Hose Co. No. 1, the North Madison Volunteer Fire Department, and others from town, who are ready to help out however they can.

The volunteers from Madison are one of several groups from all over the country who are helping Broad Channel recover. In a way, they are part of a bucket brigade of helpers, bringing what they can to make the process of recovery a little faster and a little less painful. And this is entirely appropriate, since the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department itself was formed as a bucket brigade in 1905.

Moccio said she and her fellow volunteers from Broad Channel--who are not only rebuilding their fire company, but also their own destroyed homes and their devastated community--are so grateful they barely even have the words to express it.

"We've been through it, oh yeah," she said. "The only thing is, I really can't stress enough how grateful we are to Madison for this donation. I really, really can't ... "

***

If you have not yet had a chance to help and would like to do so, here is some information from the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page:

"The firehouse is in need of scott air packs for the firefighter, new or gently used gear that is still in commision and able to be used in fires, medical supplies,fire related tools, vhf portable radios, sheet rock, ply wood, drills, and new siding for the building. Anyone willing to help us with any of these items plz contact us @ 718 474 8888 or 917 991 8801 or tmoccio@broadchannelvfd.org"

"Please consider a donation of $5 or more to help us rebuild our fire house and then share this link with others. Thank you for your support. http://igg.me/p/279740?a=1778964"

Kathy DeBurra December 01, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Thank you Pem and the Town of Madison! Thank you to all who gave generously of donations and time! I am so proud of this effort to help our neighbors and know that this is another example of huge goodwill that you have! Congratulations on another endeavor well done! I have uploaded some photos of the delivery of the Ambulance to Broad Channel. The photos really put a perspective on the good that this has done!
Pem McNerney December 01, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Thanks for the photo Kathy! @SN ... good for you for your donation. And here's the part you don't get ... your constant negativity marginalizes you. You probably have something important to contribute but because you use any opportunity to vent about one issue, it becomes easy to dismiss you. I'd love to see you become a productive contributing member of Patch just like you (by your own account) are a productive contributing member of this community. And, again, kudos to you for your donation. This articles focused on the good work done on behalf of Broad Channel. And I hope that everyone in our community takes time to thank our ambulance association members, and the volunteers from Madison Hose Co. No. 1 and North Madison Volunteer Fire Department. They can be hard to thank sometimes cuz they are like "it's what we do." But let's take SN's example and thank them and make donations if we can. We're helping them help others.
Pem McNerney December 01, 2012 at 03:33 PM
And thank you again to Women's Club of Madison! They helped organize this drive and backed up the MHCN1 and NMVFC in case they had to go out on a call the day of the drive. Thank you, thank you ladies!
Madison resident December 01, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Just asking, was there a vote from the residence of Madison to determine if we should of donated the ambulance to bcvfd or did the town officials just donated it, wasn't the vehicle purchased with our tax dollars....
Pem McNerney December 02, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Yes the vehicle was purchased with our town dollars and town officials say the resale value was under $3000. I believe the transfer of the vehicle was approved by town officials. Generally, transactions of that value don't go to voters. If a voter had an objection to it, or was in favor of it, they would have had the option of appearing before the board of selectmen to voice their objection or support prior to the transfer. There have been several stories about the town's intention to do this, and all of the meetings are posted, so there was that opportunity for any town resident who was so inclined to weigh in on it.

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