The aerial pictures of the devastation that wrecked Queens and struck at the heart of the close-knit community of Breezy Point.
A disastrous combination of overwhelming waves, rapid winds and a resulting fire brought a neighborhood of homes to the ground.
The foundations of over one hundred homes are clearly visible, giving a grisly picture of the ferocity of the damage.
New York City fire crews fought neck-deep water and battering winds as they battled a raging inferno that reduced 111 homes to ash in a neighborhood that is home to hundreds of their fellow firefighters.
Many of the residents refused to participate in the mandatory evacuation that Mayor Bloomberg ordered before the storm hit, claiming that they could handle whatever Hurricane Sandy had for them.
Their thinking was based on experience: the hype before Hurricane Irene caused only some flood damage, and when the area was hit with a freak tornado just months ago, it came out remarkably unscathed.
That wasn’t the case this time, however, as the area now looks like a deserted warzone.
Firefighters waded into rushing floodwaters and scaled walls to perform dramatic rescues of dozens of trapped residents of the neighborhood at the tip of the Rockaway peninsula.
‘It looked like a forest fire out in the Midwest,’ Mayor Bloomberg told the New York Daily News. ‘The winds were just devastating blowing from one building to the next one. We are hoping and praying that there was no loss of life in those fires.’
One firefighter was injured and two residents were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.
The six-alarm fire – a rating system indicating it is dangerously serious – was whipped into a frenzy by wild winds.
‘The Rockaways are devastated,’ wrote Twitter user @KevinNeafsey. ‘I can’t believe the place that I grew up in looks like this after today, it’s so incredibly sad.’
Tracie Strahan tweeted: ‘We’re on a submerged, powerless street in the Rockaways. I can’t imagine how hard it is for @FDNY New York Fire Department to get to fires in the area this AM.’
‘What we have seen here is absolutely devastating,’ said ABC News producer Jim DeBreuil.
They took a small boat into the heart of the fire and carried 30 people to safety.