Last summer, Breezy Point was a finger of land pointing toward Staten Island. And then Hurricane Sandy struck.
“They lost 111 homes to the fires that started,” said Red Cross staffer Jeanne Cristiano.
“The waves actually put the fires out,”
The fires stated just before high tide as the superstorm was hitting land. The rising water trapped firefighters and residents alike as baseball-sized embers were tossed around the neighborhood. It is hard to say what was worse – the fire or the water – but the combination devastated this close-knit neighborhood.
Cristiano, a resident of Everett, MA and a staffer at the Cambridge office of the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts working as the right hand to CEO Jarrett Barrios, has been deployed to the Rockaways – the large finger of land where Breezy Point is the tip – to help Red Cross efforts. What she experienced moved her.
Marilyn Coady lived in the home her family has owned for generations on Breezy Point. That is, until it was completely destroyed by the hurricane. As soon as the roads were passable, Red Cross trucks brought dry blankets, food, water, snacks – and hugs – to residents still in shock.
“We’re here to insure that in the coming days and weeks, they have food and water and emotional support,” said Michael de Vulpillieres. “Rockaways was really badly hit with not only flooding but fires that damaged dozens and dozens of houses.”
Seeing Cristiano, Coady walked up to the Red Crosser to say thank you.
“This was my Red Cross moment,” Cristiano reported.
Cristiano is one of many Eastern Massachusetts staff and volunteers who has given up two weeks of her life to help others in the areas hit worst by Hurricane Sandy. The massive storm devastated communities, some of which are still without power.