Volunteer firefighter puts safety of others above his own home amid flooding

By HILARY LANE

SAUQUOIT, N.Y. (WKTV) - Sauquoit was one of the areas hit the hardest by the high winds and floods from Tropical Storm Irene on Sunday.

Ray Williams, a Sauquoit volunteer firefighter, spent the whole day and night Sunday pumping out basements and helping people safely evacuate from their homes with the rest of the volunteer firefighters. Some people very close to Williams were among the ones required to evacuate - his very own family.

After he heard his family had safely left their home in Chadwicks, Ray stayed on the job with the firefighters, helping community members with the damage in their homes. He never left to take care of his own residence.

"The family was safe," he said. "They were out, they were gone. The house can be replaced, but family can't. I had a job to do. That's what I signed up to do."

After leaving his shift at 3 a.m. on Sunday, he came to find three feet of water in his own home. He wouldn't let his wife see the damage because he knew it would upset her too much.

While working with the volunteer firefighters on Sunday night, some had promised Williams that they would help him on Monday with the damage in his home.

"He was drenched to the bone like the rest of us. He was out until 2 or 3 in the morning pumping cellars with us. He knew he had problems here but he stayed over there to help us pump cellars. He's a good guy," said Drew Alesia, a Sauquoit volunteer firefighter.

The volunteer firefighters followed through with their promise and were on site Monday at William's home, helping him clean up and repair the damage.

Just how much does the help and support from fellow firefighters mean to Williams?

"It means everything," he said. "The fire department, everyone said they would be here for me today, and they were."

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