DALTON -- The work is far from over in New York, but seven Berkshire volunteers and supporters were honored Thursday night for their cleanup and assistance efforts needed after Hurricane Sandy late last year.
"It's pretty much a thank you from all of us that they did this so New York firefighters could take a break and be with their families," said Greg Dibrindisi, the president of the Massachusetts Call/Volunteer Firefighters Association (MCVFA), which awarded the seven
"A lot of people in the area, and across the state, headed down there," Dibrindisi said.
Hurricane Sandy slammed into the New York metropolitan area on Oct. 29 with high winds and flooding, destroying or seriously damaging thousands of homes.
Of the seven volunteers honored, only two were current firefighters: Glen Storie, of Lanesborough, and Chris Porter, of Richmond. The rest were either friends, relatives or just supportive of the cause.
"You guys go above and beyond," Vice President for Region 5 of MCVFA Paul Vallone told the recipients after they each received their award portfolios, which contained a letter from MCVFA and a certificate.
Last November, Storie along with his wife, Beth Storie, and sister, Debbie Storie, transported more than 10,000 pounds of food and supplies to Breezy Point, N.Y.
"It was pretty much chaos where we went," Glen Storie said.
But it's all part of the job, he said.
"It's the nature of the business to help out," Storie said.
Recently, the volunteers have shifted their attention to Gerritsen Beach, located in Southern Brooklyn.
"Gerritsen Beach was worse -- there were a lot of people who didn't have flood insurance," said Chris Porter, a volunteer firefighter from Richmond. His friend Jessie Markham was a supporter in the cause.
Al Peckham, another recipient and retired Peru firefighter, said residents in Gerritsen Beach weren't even told to evacuate.
Many of the recipients pulled out their phones to show photos of the work in progress.
Primarily, the volunteers have been stripping flooded houses of their floors and walls, and repairing them to make them livable.
"The floors were all moldy," Markham said.
Because volunteer firefighters from here to Europe were assisting the Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department, that meant those volunteer firefighters could take some time away from their duties to spend time with their families.
"It's pretty overwhelming," said Sam Bruns, another non-firefighter volunteer. "There's a brotherhood in the firehouse."
Each of the seven recipients said they have been back and forth between no less than a half-dozen times, fueling up their vehicles themselves.
Efforts are continuing for the volunteer firefighters to assist in Gerritsen Beach. Porter was just there last weekend. He said that despite all their efforts, the damage is so severe that the area "hasn't improved a whole lot."
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