Councilman Jimmy Vacca had tears in his eyes.
It was Monday morning and just hours before Hurricane Sandy would be peaking in the Bronx.
He was empathizing with Georgette, a frail senior forced to flee her low-lying home in Edgewater Park, a Zone A evacuation area prone to massive flooding.
“I feel bad when I see a lady like this,” said Vacca, pacing at the Edgewater Park Volunteer Fire Department headquarters after touring flood prone areas in his east Bronx district edging Long Island Sound.
On Sunday, he and Assemblyman Mike Benedetto visited City Island. Roughly 60% of it independent minded souls still hadn’t left, nor would most of them, choosing to ride out the storm.
Congressman Joseph Crowley toured Locust Point, City Island, Edgewater Park and Throggs Neck. He also kept updating conditions on Twitter, Facebook, his website and e-mail.
On Wednesday, Senator Jeff Klein brought sanitation crews with him, helping Locust Point homeowners clean up flood debris and downed trees and limbs.
Borough President Ruben Diaz hit flooded areas of Soundview, Harding Park and City Island, taking a personal look at the fire that engulfed Tony’s Pier.
“A lot of good memories there,” he recalled.
With City Hall leading recovery efforts, Diaz said his role is to serve as the “eyes and ears” for the mayor.
Soundview Councilwoman Anabel Palma toured Clason’s Point and Harding Park early Monday afternoon, where more residents wanted to stay rather than go.
Palma said she felt the need to tell constituents “that post-storm, we are going to help them fill out applications for help and maybe expedite everything.”
In Edgewater Park, the vols firehouse became an ad hoc shelter.
Fire trucks fanned out, seeking residents who ignored mandatory city evacuation orders.
Asking what he could do to help, Vacca heard concerns over a lack of wheelchairs for seniors ready to hunker down at the firehouse. Several calls later, Vacca managed to get extra chairs from Throggs Neck Extended Care.
With Edgewater Park in good shape, Vacca headed to Locust Point, where even with floodwaters spilling onto the streets, locals stuck it out.
Vacca urged them to flee, including 82-year-old Charles Lockland of Tierney Place, leaving a getaway plan to his son Josh.
“Where you going to take him?” asked Vacca. “I can’t have him stay here.”
A few seconds later, father and son headed off to Josh’s Long Island home.
Vacca then moved to Pennyfield Avenue in Locust Point, shocked to see the street underwater. The flooding forced resident Janet Pizza to jump into her car. But her husband Gustavo refused to leave.
“We’re going to tough it out,” said Gustavo. “If she wants to leave, she can leave.”
Police eventually cordoned off the street.
Vacca tried to make his last stop City Island, but the road by the Bronx Victory Memorial near Pelham Parkway East had become impassable then, with cops ordering drivers to turn back after several cars got stuck.