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Celebrating the Queens Heroes of Sandy

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Photo gallery

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Erin Corcoran Daly stands beside an area of Breezy Point, where more than 100 homes were destroyed by fire during Hurricane Sandy. Corcoran started Operation Breezy Gut and Pump after traveling to Queens from Florida. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Milan Taylor, founder of the Rockaway Youth Task Force, led a relief drive and donation drop off program for 2 1/2 weeks after Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Howard Beach resident Paul J. Marcel used his decommissioned military truck to help evacuate 120 people from flooding areas. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Stephen Wilson carries a bag of donated items at the Dwarf Giraffe Athletic League in Whitestone several days after Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Erin Corcoran Daly founded Operation Breezy Gut and Pump, which assisted at more than 600 homes in the coastal community. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Milan Taylor, founder of the Rockaway Youth Task Force, led a relief drive and donation drop off program for 2 1/2 weeks after Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Paul J. Marcel from Howard Beach was off duty from his the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corp. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Stephen Wilson (l.) set up a donation drive at the Whitestone Dwarf Giraffe headquarters for hurricane victims. Photo by Christina Santucci

Ordinary people demonstrate time and again the extraordinary strength and power of unity when calamity strikes.

The storm of the century was another opportunity for altruists of all stripes to commandeer the spirit needed to aid and support devastated communities in Brooklyn and Queens.

Some of them risked their own lives to rescue trapped people and animals. Others helped to rebuild disaster zones and mobi- lize collection drives. Yet, all of them exem- plified what it means to be a good citizen.

Now, it is our turn to sing the praises of a few of the heroes of Hurricane Sandy — as there were so many of them, we couldn’t possibly mention them all in this issue — and thank them for rushing to the fore when we needed it the most.

Erin Corcoran Daly: Brought sump pumps from the Sunshine State

The state prosecutor from Florida rushed to her other home in storm- wrecked Breezy Point to lend a hand and stand in solidarity with her storm-crushed neighbors. Corcoran Daly and her husband drove up with generators, sump pumps, tools, food, water, gasoline, and other much- needed supplies. She teamed up with firefighter Kevin Adams and later Phil Pillet to start Operation Breezy Gut and Pump, which worked with the Fire Department to remove debris and soak up storm surge from more than 600 houses for free.

Paul J. Marcel: A Sandy storm trooper

An off-duty sergeant with the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps., Marcel became a real-live action hero when he and a brave friend drove fearlessly into Howard Beach streets that had turned into rivers. The pair pulled 120 people to safety on Marcel’s giant truck with a flatbed that was actually a decommissioned military vehicle.

Milan Taylor: Rallied teenagers to action

The 23-year-old community activist created a command center for the Rockaway Youth Task Force in the community center of his co-op. Taylor also organized teams of youth members and volunteers to check on se- niors in the area, and distribute food and water to residents in 20 high-rise buildings. Afterwards, the group led cleanups of debris-filled areas.

Stephen Wilson: The moving man

The College Point dad sprang into action to help hurricane victims. He turned his enclosed trailer into a mobile help unit and drove warm clothing that his son’s Scout troop collected for folks in flooded and fire- ravaged Breezy Point, the Rockaways, and Broad Channel. Wilson also contacted the Dwarf Giraffe Athletic League in Whitestone and got the word out about a supply drive. Then he brought the items to a Red Cross center at the Aqueduct Racetrack and to the volunteer fire department in Breezy Point.

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