“When we told people to leave or they were on their own, you knew and I knew we didn’t mean it,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said.
He was speaking to a group of volunteers who risked their lives to save others in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Residents of Atlantic City, Brigantine, Longport, Margate and Ventnor were told to evacuate their homes in the days leading up to the storm in October.
Not all of them did. Many of them had to be rescued. The Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management was there to help, and so were volunteers throughout the county.
“You made a tragic situation less tragic,” Levinson told 51 volunteers who were honored with a dinner Thursday night, Jan. 31 at the Atlantic County Institute of Technology (ACIT) in Mays Landing. “I don’t know what we would’ve done without you.
“The thing I’ve learned about volunteers over the years is that you don’t want anything. You do it out of the goodness of your heart. You put yourselves in harm’s way.”
Levinson went on to say that their job might be a little harder next time.
“People who evacuated were not allowed back into their homes for a while,” Levinson said of the days following the storm. “The people who didn’t leave not only were allowed to return to their homes, but the ones who were in Brigantine and stayed met the President of the United States. He went around and met people one-on-one and he spoke to everyone. You might have a harder time getting people out next time.”
The county invited about 300 volunteers who helped to Thursday night’s dinner. About 75 RSVP’d, and 51 showed up. The students at ACIT cooked a meal that consisted of fish, chicken marsala, asparagus, roasted red potatoes and salad.
The volunteers were given a certificate from the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, a pin and a letter from Levinson.
Levinson, freeholders Alex Marino and Frank Sutton and Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Vincent Jones delivered speeches.
The complete list of volunteers who were recognized is as follows: