A Queens woman who lost her husband in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is coming to terms with the major flooding caused to her family home in Breezy Point.
Around 100 homes were burned to the ground in the Irish enclave of Breezy Point when hurricane Sandy struck last Monday.
The family home of Rose Ellen Dowdell, (55), who lost her hero husband New York City Fire Lieutenant Kevin Dowdell on September 11, was devastated by rising flood waters during the storm.
With water spilling into the family home, Rose Ellen's partner Tom O'Day, moved swiftly to save pictures of her sons and pictures of their father, her late husband, Kevin Dowdell, reports the Daily Mail.
"There was water already up to the first floor, four five feet high. I could see the flames just a few houses away, the wind was blowing east to west. It was coming. I said to Rose Ellen I'm getting pictures of you and Patrick and his father and I got to get out of here."
Some 11 years after losing her husband, the Dowdell family face the task of rebuilding the family home.
Lieutenant Dowdell was last seen outside the World Trade Center, giving instructions to his men on Septemner 11, the family believes he was among those who died during rescue efforts inside the South Tower, Gazette.com reports. He was a well known musician who layed with the NYFD Emerald Band
In the wake of the terrorist attacks, eldest son Patrick joined the army and James joined the FDNY.
On Thursday, surveying the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, Rose Ellen’s partner and son Patrick, attempted to pump out water from the basement.
“Of all the fires, all the disasters..take 35 years and add them altogether and they don't compare to this,” O’Day said.
“You know there's a memorial to the 9/11 firefighters not far from here?' he says. 'It's right at the front, right near the edge but it's still standing.”
O'Day choose to stay while many of the Irish catholic community evacuated before the hurricane hit.
He recalls: “The water just kept coming. It was four, five feet high, just a wall of water. It was mayhem and then the fire came. I called it in at about 8.45pm but the trucks couldn't get in because of the water.”
“Once it started there was just no stopping it. The wind was blowing east to west and then maybe around midnight it switched to the north.”
He adds, “It's what saved this house. But it wiped out a whole lot of others.”
Despite the widespread destruction to the co-operative seaside town, O’Day is confident the community will overcome adversity.
“What you have to understand about this community is that we will work something out... we'll work something out.”
Also surveying the damage to their Breezy Point home were newly married couple Katie, 25, and Tommy Smith, 28. On Thursday they ventured back to their home for the second time since the storm hit.
“My family has been here four generations and Tommy's has been here three,' Katie says.
“The house that my grandfather built was burnt to the ground, my parents house, all his family's,” she said, gesturing to her family.
“We grew up here, we had teenage jobs here, we never left here. We know three quarters of the people here. Everybody is affected. Everybody.” she said.