Nightly News | November 08, 2012
>>> one of the most awful scenes in all of the middle of hurricane sandy happened in a neighborhood in new york that is the cradle of public servants, the nypd, the fdny. the storm quite literally hit the firefighters where they live in the community of bell harbor in the rockaways. 10% of the force was affected. we are just now learning the stories of the heroes in that neighborhood. the fire department will be handing out medals for bravery. but first tonight, their stories from nbc's katy tur.
>> we got to start putting the water on the fire.
>> reporter: many here will remember it as the night hell came through their town, a fury of fire and flood. new york city fire department assistant chief bob mains walked us through what is left on just this street, beach 130.
>> this is a firefighter's home.
>> reporter: dozens of homes were destroyed, but there were just as many hero. monday them the humble ron cassar of engine 265. he dove under the rising water to find a hydrant and attach a hose. don't you feel as though maybe you did something extraordinary?
>> nothing more than the other members of my -- company would do.
>> reporter: a team was working when they got a call, people trapped.
>> the water was this high, coming up to the top of the windshield.
>> reporter: when they got there, there was not just water but a wall of fire . he had to climb to them.
>> one woman was pregnant, there were a minimum of six children.
>> is there a possibility of getting a tower? amid the rains and fire, he brought people through the roof tops through an open window and out on to a rescue boat.
>> this was not anything i have ever experienced.
>> reporter: back on 130, it was quick thinking that saved the home of the retired firefighter, charlie and his wife, nancy. the lifelong rockaway resident.
>> i worked in harlem, brownsville, the lower east side . i went to a lot of fires but when it is personal, it is tough.
>> reporter: and for these guys, it is family.
>> i remember charlie schooling me, and his brother, walter, taking me out one night, explaining what to do and what not to do.
>> reporter: despite the damage, charlie and his family and neighbors say it is tougher than it looks. it is a place too rich in tradition, friendship and family to keep them away. katy tur, nbc news, new york.