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Soldier talks family through Sandy disaster

December 4, 2012 8:20:10 PM PST
One family in the warzone of a neighborhood being ravaged by house fires and the brutal flooding of Hurricane Sandy was on the phone getting emergency evacuation advice from their son, who was in a warzone in Afghanistan.

There is still so much debris and a lot of it is piled up along Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

What's not along the sidewalk still is charred rubble.

The remains of what burned to the ground at the height of Superstorm Sandy, including Linda Peavy's apartment near the corner of 115th Street.

"I got out with the clothes on my back," Peavy said.

She was at home at the time with her parents on the second floor.

They thought the high water couldn't reach them.

No one could have planned for the fire that eventually leveled parts of several city blocks.

Eyewitness News' camera was there that night as the flames tore through homes and businesses.

Linda was on the phone with her son army specialist Chris Cruz.

"I was on the phone from Afghanistan using phone cards that the USO had provided us," Cruz said.

He was half a world away and talking his mother through the storm.

"It was terrible on the other line. Not being able to do anything for my family," Cruz said.

But, his words may have given his mother the strength she needed to get out.

"Chris was telling me to keep the smoke out," Peavy said.

"Before I knew it the apartment filled up with smoke and I had no time to get out," Peavy said.

She eventually made it out with her parents by wading through the high water, like so many others in Rockaway Park, some of whom were rescued by members of a special unit of the FDNY.

Members of special operations command evacuated dozens of people from the path of the fire and high water.

"The frustration right now is getting myself into a home and my mother as well," Peavy said.

A just over a month later, Chris Cruz is home after taking emergency leave from the military and is hoping to help his mother rebuild.

The storm and the fire he says took everything thing she had.

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