Firefighters returning from East Coast after helping Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

By SHERRI KOLADE
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Several local firefighters are preparing to head home from the New York state-New Jersey area after helping with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

The Dearborn Firefighters’ Union, Dearborn Fire Department and Dearborn Firefighters’ Burn Drive worked together to send seven firefighters — Capt. Steve Worden, Jeff Powell, Michael Mattern, Mike Reiter, Adam Ferrel, Matt Ferrel and Chad Bronson — to the New York state-New Jersey area from Nov. 8 to 11.

On Oct. 24, Hurricane Sandy turned into a Category 1 hurricane, killing 109 people in the United States by Nov. 3. The states mostly affected by the hurricane include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

Before the group departed, Fire Chief Joseph Murray said the firefighters will donate various supplies to New York area residents and volunteer their time to help clean up efforts.

“I’m really lucky with the guys I have here,” Murray said. “They are very active in the community and my guys are willing to give up their time and go out to help others, which makes my job easier.”

The firefighters drove a recreational vehicle to the East Coast and connected with Friends of Firefighters, a New York-based organization that assists firefighters’ families in need. The plan was to have members direct the firefighters to places that need the most help, either in Staten Island or Rockaway, N.Y.

Reiter said a couple months ago several firefighters planned to head out to New York to give funds — from fundraiser events — to the Friends of Firefighters organization either this month or in December, but Hurricane Sandy sped things up.

“Since Sandy happened it was a good time to lend a hand and volunteer to clean up,” Reiter said.

Worden said a lot of firefighters and police from New York lost their houses in the hurricane.

“We will help them and (give them) food, blankets, water and supplies,” Worden said last week.

Local and area businesses and residents donated $7,000 to the Dearborn Fire Department toward helping hurricane victims, along with enough food and supplies to fill a medium-sized truck, Worden said.

“Ever since we put the message out on Facebook and sent emails (on Nov. 5) we have had an overwhelming amount of support from area businesses and residents,” Worden said.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)

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