Local Heroes to be Honored for Rescue from Hurricane Ida’s Aftermath

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The Valor Honorees from Boonton Fire Department are Ex-Captain Rick Blood, Ex-Captain Michael Colarusso, Ex-Captain Jeff Gregory, Ex-Captain R.J. Ryerson, Jr., and Ex-Captain Michael Shondel


MORRIS COUNTY — Twelve local volunteers will be honored for their participation in rescuing residents from Hurricane Ida’s aftermath on Thursday, May 5. The event will be held at The Legacy Castle, Pompton Plains, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

On Thursday, May 5, you can be part of Morris County 200 Club’s Golden Anniversary, as the tribute to the 2022 Valor & Meritorious Honorees, and the camaraderie of fellow citizens in our community who appreciate, respect, and support the women and men on the front line who protect and serve every one of us each and every day.

At 11:00 p.m. on September 1, 2021, five members from the Boonton Fire Department, three members from Parsippany Rescue & Recovery, and four members from Parsippany Fire District #6 were mobilized to Somerset County as a swift water rescue team which is part of the Morris Regional Water Incident Taskforce. They were called to assist local first responders who had become overwhelmed with water rescues and evacuations resulting from flash flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. The area was already saturated from previous rainfall and had received another 7.6 inches of rain in just a few hours.

The Valor Honorees from Boonton Fire Department are Ex-Captain Rick Blood, Ex-Captain Michael Colarusso, Ex-Captain Jeff Gregory, Ex-Captain R.J. Ryerson, Jr., and Ex-Captain Michael Shondel.

The Valor Honorees from Parsippany Rescue & Recovery are Lieutenant Paul Anderson, Ex-Captain Andrew H. Ludwig, and Chief Louis Yuliano, Jr.

The Valor Honorees from Parsippany Fire District #6 are Firefighter Bill MacStudy, Firefighter Stephane Meunier, Chief Vincent Petito, and Lieutenant Michael Sanford.

While en route the team encountered heavy downpours which forced them to detour around flooded roads, dodge debris, and check on a few vehicles they encountered before they arrived at the staging area near Route 202/206 Somerville Circle. Once there, they were teamed with a crew from the North Branch Fire Department at the Bridgewater Police Headquarters and were immediately assigned to a series of rescues of people who had become swept away or trapped in their vehicles or homes. The team observed people clinging desperately to branches, to the side of vehicles, and many trapped inside vehicles or had climbed on top of them.

Utilizing multiple watercraft, spotters, and crews they navigated through waters moving faster than 15 knots (17 mph). They did this in zero visibility while homing in on desperate cries for help. Crews circumvented moving and stagnant obstacles while keeping their boat propulsion from becoming clogged by vegetation, including corn stalks and weeds. Quickly rising floodwaters also forced several residents to retreat to the second floor of their homes where they had to be rescued using ladders commandeered from nearby houses.

All the rescues and evacuations were documented on the fly and relayed to command to prevent the team from duplicating their efforts. This resulted in a more productive overall response. The crew worked tirelessly from 11:45 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. the following morning. In total, they responded to eleven sites across Branchburg, Bridgewater, and Bedminster and their dedication, expertise, and heroism resulted in the rescue of thirteen people and the evacuation of nine residents, including several children, an infant, and five pets.

To become a sponsor or to purchase tickets click here.

The 200 Club of Morris County proudly supports Morris County Police Officers, Fire Fighters, First Aid Squad Members, and Members of the New Jersey State Police serving Morris County who died in the line of duty. When tragedy occurs, grief is shared amongst the family as well as the members of The 200 Club of Morris County. Their support of the family is reflected in the following manner:

When a public safety official loses their life in the line of duty, the Action Committee of The 200 Club of Morris County reaches out to the widow(er) to offer emotional support and financial assistance in the form of a death benefit to help manage the financial burden during this difficult time.

The 200 Club of Morris County also awards an annual benefit to each eligible child of the public safety official in an effort to help ease the financial concerns created by the loss of their loved one.