Mayor Honors Firefighters Who Rescued Flood Victims

Firefighters used boats to reach the stranded

Monday, Aug 29, 2011  |  Updated 11:36 AM EDT
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Firefighters rescued dozens of people by boat on Sunday as Irene passed through New York City.

NBC New York

Firefighters rescued dozens of people by boat on Sunday as Irene passed through New York City.

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Mayor Bloomberg commended the group of Staten Island firefighters who went out in boats and rescued stranded New Yorkers when Irene hammered the city with flooding rains and 65 mph winds on Sunday.

Members of Engine 166/Ladder 86 rescued 61 adults and three babies from 21 on Staten Island after a lake in Willowbrook Park overflowed.

They pulled people from homes "calmly, quickly and safely, as you would expect them to do," Bloomberg said while visiting their fire house Monday.

Bloomberg said the Staten Island rescues were among some 100 people rescued by boat in low-lying areas during and after the storm.

Nabiel Gurges and his son Danny Gurges were among those who had to be saved.

At about 8 a.m. Sunday, they woke up in a panic because water was gushing into their basement. Very quickly the water flooded the first floor and they were knee deep when firefighters rescued them in  boats.

"It looked like waves, just attacking," said Danny Gurges.

The ordeal was "very scary, I could not believe what I seen," said his father.

A weakened Irene, which left 11 dead in its path of destruction up the East Coast, made landfall just before 9 a.m. in Coney Island, which was one of the areas under a mandatory evacuation.

Some 370,000 people in total live in the city's low-lying areas that were told to evacuate. Many refused to go on Saturday.

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