Tampa, Florida - It's been 12 long days for 14 people who are members of emergency management teams from across the Bay area. They were sent up to New York City to help in the Sandy relief efforts. Tuesday night they returned home just in time for Thanksgiving.
But for many of them the return is bittersweet. Some of them feel guilty about being home with their families celebrating the holiday while so many people up north continue to struggle to survive.
Tom Iovino works for the Pinellas County Communications Department. He says, "There are areas in New York that are going to take years to recover."
The images are just too hard to forget for many of the men and women from emergency management teams from Citrus, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk Counties. Iovino adds, "I don't think we've seen damage like this since Hurricane Ike. Areas of Staten Island are pushed a half mile inland."
Many of the workers captured the heartbreaking devastation in photographs that were posted on a blog during their time there. Andy Robert Fossa with the Pasco County Fire Rescue Department says, "You can't see one street from the other. I mean there's blocks and blocks of just flat land."
Still Iovino says he has no doubt the survivors who faced a Nor'easter after the Category One storm will bounce back. "But the people of New York are resilient. They're coming back hard. They're coming back strong."
Doug Blackwell with the Pinellas County Emergency Management
Department was happy to see his wife and two sons waiting for him at the airport with a big sign but he knows so many of the people they left behind have a lot to deal with. He says, "We're all pretty emotional about that actually there's a lot left to do and a lot more actually in the days ahead."
Judith Tear with the Citrus County Health Department agrees. She says, "It's very difficult to leave the people knowing they're going to spend Thanksgiving Day working and we got to come home to our families and at Thanksgiving Dinner without them so it's a bond we'll never break."
Tammie Fields, 10 News