|So how was the shift there Sarge?|
|Written by Mark Nichols|
Sgt. Tommy Carchidi received the first call about 10 p.m. as Sandy hit land. "Our command post was already gone," Carchidi told reporters with the New York Daily News. "A boulder had ripped into it and flooded the whole precinct house. So when I got the call that two people were trapped in a submerging white van on Mermaid Ave. and W. 37th St. I started wading and then swimming that way through the eight -foot floodwaters from Sea Gate." Sgt. Carchidi works for the Sea Gate Police Department.
Sea Gate is a gated community, a low-crime small town located at the southwest tip of Brooklyn.
"The crazy winds were blowing off the sea and the water rose until the whole area was like a surging lagoon," he said.
"When I got to Mermaid and 37th, I didn't see a white van. But I saw two dark-colored cars trying to evacuate much too late. A man in his late 40s, was driving one car and a woman the same age was driving the other." Carchidi watched the man climb out of one car, rush to the car in front and jump into the passenger seat.
"They were together, husband and wife, trying to escape when they realized how bad the storm was getting." The female driver tried to make her way along Mermaid Ave. as Carchidi tread water.
"Then the woman's car started filling up fast," he said. Carchidi swam through the freezing water against the current and into the wind. "The guy inside managed to break the window," Carchidi said. "I went underwater and was able to pull open the door. I helped the guy out first." After he got the man to safety he swam back to the sinking car and pulled the woman out. He backstroked with the woman on his chest to the safety of 37th St. where the couple lived.
Usually two saves is a big night for anyone but Carchidi wasn't done with the Superman routine. After changing into dry clothes to avoid hypothermia he joined Capt. George Walsh, Officer Verali Rivera and Lt. Adriel Caamano. "Capt. Walsh thought we should start doing a search of the houses along Atlantic Ave. in Sea Gate," Carchidi says.
Carchidi and Rivera patrolled near W. 38th St. when he heard something. "I asked my partner if that was a cat," said Carchidi. They got out of their vehicle and approached the house. An elderly woman was screaming for help. With his flashlight the sergeant saw the destroyed interior of the house. "And here was this 78-year-old woman named Mrs. Winkler clinging to an exposed beam inside the house," he said.
"It was about 1:30 a.m. and she must have been clinging there for hours. Her 90-year-old brother was also in there, clinging to a door frame for dear life."
The four cops attacked the wall with sledgehammers and axes so they could gain safe entry into the residence. "We coaxed Mrs. Winkler into the safe apartment through the hole," Carchidi says.
"But her older brother, a stubborn old guy, refused to let loose of the beam he was clutching." "Finally, I broke his grasp and we pulled him to safety," Carchidi said.
"The first thing Mrs. Winkler wanted to know was what happened to her new Cadillac. I told her that was sucked out of the driveway, probably out to sea." "I've never seen anything like that night," said Carchidi.