Local fire departments honored for Sandy response

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ALBANY, N.Y. – Nearly two months after super-storm Sandy devastated parts of New York City and Long Island, some of the Capital Region's first responders are being recognized for their response efforts. 

Fourteen fire departments from Albany County sent crews and equipment to Long Island, those fire fighters provided coverage and support to the Long Beach Fire Department and community.

Those honored said they weren't looking for a pat on the back when they responded but it was nice to receive the recognition.

“There was nothing that was not under water or in the water,” said McKownville Assistant Fire Chief Russ Becker.

“It just looked like it was a war zone,” said McKownville Firefighter, Greg Magee.

The McKownville Volunteer Fire Department was ready for battle as they began a three day deployment in Long Beach. Less than two months later, images still remain as they recall seeing and feeling the impact of Sandy.

“It looked almost like a tornado or a bomb went off. There was just debris everywhere,” said Magee.

Magee has never responded to a natural disaster. It was something the 21-year-old volunteer never thought he would see. “It was just sad. It was sad,” he said.

During his call to duty, he remembers helping a fellow fire fighter, his home like countless others was no match for Sandy.

“We had to take down tile in the bathroom. Basically just gut the whole basement. It was covered in mold. The mechanics of the house were completely destroyed,” said Magee.

Thursday, Assistant Fire Chief Russ Becker could not have been prouder of his crew, as they were honored for their response and recovery efforts.

For Becker the memories of the indescribable loss are still very close.

“It was sad to look at the loss of their personal property. The pictures, their clothing. Whatever they owned was in huge piles out in front of their homes,” said Becker.

At the award ceremony, the New York State Deputy Fire Administrator said that there are still roughly 1,000 people without power in New York City and Long Island from Sandy.

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