Archive for the tag 'heroes'

The only entrance to Lake Avenue became impassable once water started tumbling down from Emmons Avenue, and debris littered the alleyway.

There is no shortage of heroes that came out of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, but it seems everyone on Lake Avenue agrees that two quick thinking residents of their bungalow colony and a nearby landlord are their first first responders.

The Nostrand Avenue condo building where Lake Avenue residents found refuge from the flood.

One of several Lake Avenue buildings that are now deemed uninhabitable by the Department of Buildings.

When flood waters breached the bulkhead of Sheepshead Bay and engulfed Emmons Avenue, it advanced forward, rushing into the bungalow colony alleys located below street level. With no drainage systems, approximately 60 residents of Lake Avenue – just off Nostrand Avenue and Emmons Avenue – realized their one-story bungalows were about to be submerged.

“All of a sudden the water started pouring into the house. My 94-year-old father and I live in the house together,” said Lake Avenue resident Wendy Mitchell.

That’s when neighbors Missy Haggerty and Peter McCandless rushed out of their homes and began banging on doors, telling people to get out. Some were sleeping or in the middle of eating dinner, and looked up the block to see a waterfall rushing down the steps into the colony’s dead end alley.

“I got out and I’m trying to hold the door open [for my 94-year-old father] and Peter got him out finally,” Mitchell said. “When we first left, the water was up to the knees. By the time we got about five houses down it was under my arms. I’m five-foot-five and it was under my arms.”

Mitchell said she never would have been able to get out of there if it weren’t for Missy and Peter – and the landlord of a nearby building that abuts the alley.

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Well known are the stories of heroism on the part of firefighters, police officers and other first responders on September 11, 2001. But there’s yet another story of heroism that has largely gone under the radar, involving ordinary civilians who put their life and property in harm’s way to save others.

Boatlift chronicles the story of the largest sea evacuation in history, when a fleet of civilian and Coast Guard vessels voluntarily navigated to the seawall of lower Manhattan, and helped evacuate nearly 500,000 people in less than nine hours.

Sheepshead Bay’s own Vincent Ardolino, captain of the Amberjack V, was one of those who played a pivotal role on that September morning 11 years ago. Seeing the attack on the news, he boarded his vessel and set out to ferry evacuees between the boroughs – long before the Coast Guard put out a call to all available ships for help in the evacuation. Ardolino is heavily featured in the film, as are captains from around Brooklyn and New York City, as well as New Jersey.

Boatlift was executive produced by Stephen Flynn and Sean Burke, and co-directed by Rick Velleu. It premiered on September 8 at the “9/11 Tenth Anniversary Summit: Remembrance/Renewal/Resilience” in Washington. The summit kicked off a national movement to foster community and national resilience in the face of future crises. See to learn more.


Joe Reisman, real life superhero.

Local Sanitation workers, the head of Community Board 15 and Sheepshead Bites’ own tax columnist, Joseph Reisman, all went above and beyond the call of duty on Friday, mobilizing to secure hundreds of documents containing names, addresses, Social Security numbers, bank account information and other information coveted by identity thieves that were accidentally strewn across a busy Sheepshead Bay intersection.

The incident was sparked by a tip sent to us by Sheepshead Bites reader Penny, who informed us at approximatly 6:00 p.m. on Friday that hundreds of papers were blowing in the wind on Avenue Z, between East 16th Street and East 17th Street. Upon closer inspection, Penny wrote, the papers were tax records from a local accountant, and contained some of the most sensitive private information about clients – the kind of info that makes ID thieves drool.

We checked it out, and, indeed, it appeared hundreds, if not thousands, of individual’s identities were at risk.

First, we called the accountant listed on the papers, and even knocked on his office door. But no one was in.

Then we called our own tax guru, Reisman, to see if there was a city or state agency able to respond and quickly clean up the mess and possibly notify the accountant and his clients. Reisman wasn’t aware of any, and advised us to call the city.

We then called 311, but the uniqueness of the complaint baffled operators. After being transferred around a couple of times, an operator said all they could do was file a complaint, and, in time, the Sanitation Department would dispatch someone to check out the location and issue the accountant a fine for littering. However, it wasn’t clear if they could get someone to the location within 24 hours.

That wasn’t good enough. With so much personal information so easily accessible to passers-by, we knew every second it remained on the street, people’s credit and identities remained at risk.

Keep reading to find out what happened next.

The emergency evacuations of low-lying areas in advance of Hurricane Irene might have seemed like an overreaction to those residents who didn’t live in the small pockets of the city pummeled by the winds and rain. But, despite the small scale of the damage, it’s undeniable that the city’s civil servants – firemen and police, city authorities and transit workers – had an organized and authoritative response worthy of recognition. But one group of heroes easily overlooked in the wake of the storm worked diligently, if quietly, to protect the city’s most vulnerable.

As the storm rolled up the east coast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of hospitals and senior homes in coastal areas - including Coney Island Hospital and numerous homes in Sheepshead Bay – to ensure the continuity of medical care for the sick and elderly. Though the media reported on the patient transfers, those who oversaw the pre-storm scramble, including staff who stayed up ’round the clock to care for patients and the decision-makers who took extra precautions with medicine and other care, have gone unpraised. Until now. has produced a blow-by-blow account of the evacuations, from the moment the orders were handed down to the point where patients could return to their designated homes and hospitals. The report highlights the efficiency of staffs at institutions including Coney Island Hospital in collaborating between departments and hospitals, reaching out to families, and securing proper medical treatment in a scene that could have been chaotic and catastrophic under less-effective leadership.

Hospitals were given just 24 hours to organize staff, review patient needs, and make the move. Coney Island Hospital hit that mark three hours early, according to the article.  Terry Mancher, Coney Island’s Chief Nursing Officer, credits the selfless actions of the staff. “No one said ‘I have to go.’ A lot of the nurses just said ‘Just tell me where I need to go and I’m there,” Mancher said. “I’m so proud of my staff.”

While the storm might have been a wash, the same can’t be said for the expediency with which our local hospitals and homes rose to the evacuation challenge and helped ease patients’ minds. For that, they deserve a little recognition.

Check out the full article on