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The Globe and Mail

Dramatic rescues: The fallout from Superstorm Sandy

Residents are rescued by emergency personnel from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New Jersey, October 30, 2012.

Adam Hunger/Reuters

Superstorm Sandy left a path of destruction and upheaval – and countless dramatic human rescues.

Among those affected by the colossal storm were more than 200 patients of NYU Langone Medical Center, who had to be evacuated to other New York City hospitals after the facility's backup power system failed Monday night.

At times with only flashlights to illuminate the way, staff carried patients down as many as 15 flights of stairs to waiting ambulances after the hospital's basement, lower floors and elevator shafts filled with up to three metres of water, CNN reported. Emergency generators were activated, but 90 per cent of that power went out after two hours.

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"Things went downhill very, very rapidly and very unexpectedly," Dr. Andrew Brotman, senior vice president and vice dean for clinical affairs and strategy, told the network. "The flooding was just unprecedented."

Among the patients evacuated were four premature newborns on respirators who were carried down nine flights of stairs by nurses who manually squeezed bags to deliver air into their lungs, CNN said. Video images showed a female staff member cradling a tiny baby while operating a manual respirator as they were loaded into an ambulance.

The evacuation lasted through the night and involved some 1,000 staff as well as firefighters and police officers.

Meanwhile, firefighters conducted daring rescues after a massive fire destroyed 80 to 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighbourhood of Queens, New York, The Associated Press reported.

More than 190 firefighters used boats to rescue people trapped by chest-high water and wind-whipped flames in Breezy Point.

About 25 people were trapped in an upstairs unit in one apartment home – and the house next door was on fire and spreading. Firefighters climbed an awning to get to the trapped people and took them downstairs to a boat in the street, The AP said.

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