The rescue efforts conducted by police officers during Hurricane Sandy presented obstacles that training couldn't fully prepare them for. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently looked at cellphone video shot by one of his officers the night Hurricane Sandy hit. In the video, the floodwaters are quickly submerging police cars.
Kelly said that officers could have easily died.
"First of all, we were lucky that no one was killed," he said. "The force of the water was tremendous."
Video captured one officer trying to wade through water in Coney Island as the ocean took over the streets.
New York City police officers had to conduct emergency operations that they had no way of preparing for, having to make rescues in the rushing water, even from a police stationhouse.
"We had someone in that building, a plumber who actually had his foot caught. Other police officers came in and freed him up," Kelly said. "So there is lots of stories like that. I don't think it's anything that we could have reasonably anticipated."
The 100th Precinct in Rockaway Beach and the 60th stationhouse in Coney Island received significant flooding. Walls at the 60th crumbled after the ocean filled the basement. A large amount of evidence at NYPD Property Clerk warehouses was destroyed, and 200 vehicles were demolished.
The aviation unit had to swoop in to rescue people, some stuck on rooftops. Paddle boats were also used, but Kelly said they were difficult to maneuver, so more motorized inflatable boats are being purchased.
Going weeks without electricity and lights in many areas was also a challenge.
"Light towers were very effective, and we have since increased the number of towers that we have," Kelly said.
About 2,000 officers actually had their personal property damaged or destroyed. The department had to set up relief efforts for its own.
"It was a little bit ad hoc in the beginning, but now, we want to be able to put in place sort of a self-help component that is able to be put in operation more quickly," Kelly said.
Looking back, Kelly said, "We did a lot of things right, and a lot of things worked for the department."
It's a challenge the department hopes it never has to face again.