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Brothers helping brothers: Exeter firefighters head to NYC to help city's bravest

8BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- With a generator humming next to them outside an old, darkened Brooklyn firehouse, firefighters from Exeter, N.H., and Iowa formed a bucket brigade to load rolls of toilet paper, warm blankets and boxes of food into the back of a fire vehicle.

The supplies are headed to firefighters whose homes were devastated when Superstorm Sandy blasted the region a little more than two weeks ago.

Six Exeter firefighters traveled to Queens and Brooklyn early Tuesday morning to provide donated supplies and manual labor to help their fellow firefighters get back on their feet. The firefighters volunteered their time.

"We're prepared to do anything. It's not just about helping your own community out, it's about helping our brothers out," said Exeter firefighter Patrick Robicheau, who got the idea for the two-day trip after watching news coverage of Sandy's aftermath.

Robicheau contacted Lt. Jason Greene to see about filling the fire department's utility truck with supplies and getting some firefighters together to deliver them.

The idea quickly grew into a relief effort involving two fire department trucks filled with supplies donated by local businesses.

Robicheau also hooked up with Friends of Firefighters, an organization that helps active and retired New York City firefighters.

In addition to the 250 gallons of donated Poland Springs water, cleaning supplies, Army cots, and other items, the fire department pulled together some of its older turnout gear, hand tools and other equipment that are no longer in use and donated them to a foundation that will give them to fire departments that lost equipment in the storm.

Robicheau and Greene were accompanied by firefighters Ryan Booth and Richard Curtis and crew chiefs Lee Dawson and Jeff Liporto.

Each grabbed a tool belt from home and hit the road just after 4 a.m. They spent the day hauling supplies around and planned to help firefighters rip out damaged building materials and clean up their homes Wednesday before returning to Exeter.

With a pellet stove to provide heat, the Exeter firefighters spent the night in the historic firehouse in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. The Friends of Firefighters now use the building, which wasn't spared when Sandy came ashore. The firehouse was flooded in the storm and is slowly coming back to life with help from firefighters like the ones from Iowa who installed new drywall Monday.

The brotherhood was evident when the Exeter and Iowa firefighters teamed up.

"Within five seconds of meeting these guys everyone knew exactly what to do," Greene said as they continued lugging boxes of supplies around and darkness fell.

Booth said he was glad that he could come down to help.

"Between 9/11, the hurricane last year and this hurricane, it's a lot of stuff for them to deal with," he said.

Liporto agreed.

"I think whatever we can do is better than nothing," he said.

As the firefighters worked at the firehouse, Raymond Leung and his workers were next door throwing out about 85 percent of the merchandise for his housewares wholesale company, Glory Trading Corp. Five feet of water ruined everything and a garbage bags were piled up the sidewalk.

"I can't do any business now because I don't have any goods to sell," he said. "And I have no power. I can do nothing."

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Jason Schreiber may be reached at jschreiber@newstote.com.


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