N. Greece Crews Return Home from Sandy Relief Efforts
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When disaster strikes, the North Greece Fire Department is used to rushing to help at a moment's notice.
"Guys got ready to go, packed their bags and left their families for a week," said N. Greece Fire Lieutenant Kris Helfer. "These guys got two hours notice that we were leaving."
But what they weren't expecting was the amount of damage left by Sandy.
"I think a lot of us have been on storm deployments in the past, and figured we see damaged roadways, trees down, things along those lines," said N. Greece Fire Assistant Chief Jay France. "I don't think we expected to see the utter devastation that we saw."
Eight members of the North Greece Fire Department returned from a 72 hour deployment in Freeport, New York in Nassau County.
"It looks like Katrina. It truly looks like Katrina down there," France said.
They assisted the Freeport Fire Department with search and rescues.
"One of the biggest things we were able to help with our special operations unit," said Helfer. "We had provided immediate response to any water rescue anywhere in the Long Beach area and the Rockaways. Each night we went out searching."
Assistant Fire Chief Jay France and Lieutenant Kris Helfer say the devastation they witnessed and captured on camera was indescribable.
"It's really a powerful thing when you're going down the street and you're watching people remove the contents of their house," France said. "Their lifelong earnings and memories. "
Helfer said, "This was definitely the most challenging experience I had."
They say they also witnessed dedication.
"To give you an idea of the dedications of the firefighters down there, they literally hadn't worked on their own houses yet," said France.
The crew says it spent four days in Freeport and each firefighter averaged about twelve hours of sleep. France says even though they're back, cleanup in that town is far from over.
"I don't think they've scratched the tip of the iceberg," said France.
On Saturday more North Greece firefighters were sent down for relief with an additional crew on standby. France says they'll continue to offer their help as long as its needed.
"We're in the long haul to help our this department," France said. "I think they are really going to become our sister department."