Annapolis police and firefighters hauled more than 250 bags of winter clothes and blankets to Staten Island where they spent all Monday helping residents clean up from Hurricane Sandy.
"It was something you had to see to believe," Detective Ben Keck said. "It was overwhelming when we got down into the residential areas and saw how much was left and how much hadn’t even been started."
Staten Island was one of the hardest hit communities in New York City, and firefighters there suggested the location to Annapolis' first responders.
Keck and 24 other police and firefighters headed out at 5 a.m. on Monday. They divided into teams based on skill sets after arriving to Staten Island. His crew spent the morning sorting and organizing at a donation center.
"I probably spent three hours putting all the bleach together and all the multipurpose cleaners together," Sgt. Beth Nelson said.
After lunch, Nelson and Keck went door-to-door with other officers asking people if they needed help. They tore down drywall, hauled trash and chatted with residents who are still without power—more than two weeks after the storm.
"A really positive estimate would be the beginning of December that they would get power on," Nelson said. "All of their gas lines have to be replaced."
She said the hardest moment was when they helped a 70-year-old woman clean out her basement. The woman rode out the hurricane on her second floor as the water rose more than 6-feet in her living room.
"She lost everything," Nelson said. "It’s really sad to have to go in and basically shovel somebody’s possessions into trash bags and put it out on the street."
The team headed back to Annapolis around 5:30 p.m. Since there was no electricity, little work could be accomplished in the dark. Keck said everyone would have stayed later if they could.
Both officers said they felt exhausted and rewarded after the day's work.
"We would do it again in a heartbeat," Keck said. "I think there are even some people talking about doing it again. So, maybe we we'll get another crew together and go back."