Ever since Hurricane Sandy stormed on shore last week, we hear one sad story after another. We hear of the lives lost (110 so far and possibly more) along with the homes and businesses that were destroyed or damaged. Power outages stretched for a thousand miles up and down the eastern seaboard. Damage from Frankenstorm is already reaching into the billions of dollars.
But in all of the tragedy, there may have been a ray of sunshine.
Perhaps one of the hardest hit communities was Breezy Point, Queens, New York. A small community of less than 5,000 year round residents, Breezy Point is located on the southern tip of Rockaway Peninsula. A large portion of the residents are police and firemen. Consequently, this community has a unique closeness that most other communities don’t.
On September 11, 2001, Breezy Point lost 30 of its residents to the 9/11 tragedy. One of those lost was Lt. Kevin Dowdell of the New York Fire Department, and husband to Rose Ellen Dowdell. Eleven years ago, Rose lost her husband and last week she lost her house to Sandy. Her house was one of the one hundred homes that was destroyed by fire that ripped through the neighbor during the storm.
Rose has a boyfriend who is a 35 year veteran of the fire department by the name of Tom O’Day. As the waters surged in and the fires broke out in the Breezy Point area, O’Day tried to do what he could to save whatever he could. In the end, he managed to save what may have been Rose’s most valuable and irreplaceable possessions – photos of her late husband and her children.
O’Day was a friend of Kevin’s at the fire department and knew how much the photos meant to Rose. With little time to save anything, he went for what meant the most to her.
Rose Ellen Dowdell still has the photos of her late husband Kevin, one of the heroes who sacrificed it all at 9/11. And she has the man that saved those oh so valuable and irreplaceable photos for her. So amidst all of the darkness and tragedy of Hurricane Sandy and in spite of losing everything she owned, there was still a ray of sunshine that shown down on Rose and will give her hope in the future as she recovers and rebuilds with those around her.