By KAUSTUV BASU
5:39 PM EST, November 9, 2012
The bridges near Jersey City looked small because the rivers and bays were so swollen with water. The neighborhoods of the normally bustling city were eerily quiet because of a night-time curfew. Many residents were running out of their medications.
These were the scenes that greeted emergency personnel from Washington County who were sent to New Jersey to help those affected by Superstorm Sandy.
Five members of the Community Rescue Service returned to Washington County about noon Friday and were greeted with pizza, cake and hugs from colleagues and family members at their station on Eastern Boulevard. Another member of the team had come back a day earlier.
The CRS crew members talked about the destruction they had seen, the desperation of people and fires started accidentally by candles as they helped staff an emergency center and responded to 9-1-1 calls in the Jersey City area.
The six were part of a larger task-force from the State of Maryland.
Capt. Jeremy Mackrell of CRS said residents of the city were welcoming and grateful to see the emergency crews. They honked and waved.
“It was a very humbling experience to see those people,” Mackrell said. “You see a lot of this on the news a lot. So when you finally have the chance to actually be part of something and go up there and help, it is, you know pretty rewarding and humbling.”
He said that his team took care to go the extra length to help people.
While they were on a call to get a resident to a hospital, they ended up giving a ride to three family members who had no other way of getting to the hospital.
Another call involved helping Jersey City police officers who had rushed into a building to rescue trapped residents and suffered smoke inhalation.
Some residents had breathing trouble because they couldn’t use oxygen machines or nebulizers because of power outages, said CRS Lt. Kara Kile.
Carbon monoxide poisoning was another issue, because many residents were using their gas stoves for heating, Kile said.
“There was a lot of water damage everywhere ... it was kind of like a devastating sight,” she said. “The bridges looked really small ... like normally there is a lot of space between the bridges and the water. There wasn’t a lot of space there.”
Others who were sent to New Jersey from Washington County were: Lt. Brett Kile, paramedic Billy Eichelberger, and emergency medical technicians Henry Vidal and Christian Rejonis.
Kile said she was struck by the diversity of Jersey City, as she interacted with residents of different ethnicities.
“It is a very diverse culture,” she said. Maybe I might learn another language or something.”
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