August 31st, 2011
12:35 PM ET

Popular teacher, public servant, rescuer, Holocaust survivor among Irene's dead

One of the first U.S. casualties from Hurricane Irene, which killed 43 people, was a popular Florida teacher who suffered a fatal head injury Saturday when a big wave knocked him down.

Frederick Fernandez, 55, an algebra teacher at New Smyrna Beach High School, was known as a skilled surfer, according to CNN affiliate WESH. Although the brunt of the storm missed Florida by hundreds of miles, it stirred up high surf that brought many, including Fernandez, out to the beach.

Fernandez was standing in shallow water when a large wave bowled him over and slammed his head against the compacted sand, WESH reported.

Principal Jim Tager couldn't bring himself to speak of Fernandez in the past tense.

"He's just well-respected," he told WESH. "The family is well-respected. They are from our community, and it hurts. I hope it brings us all closer together, and he is just a fine man, and I know many of us wish we could be just like him."

In East Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, a man who was camping out during a fundraising motorcycle run was killed when a tree fell on his tent early Sunday, CNN affiliate WGAL reported.

Walter Bruder, 58, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was among about 20 people camping at a heavily forested military reservation, officials told WGAL. A second person in the tent suffered a skull fracture, WGAL reported.

A Connecticut man became the only fatality of the storm in New Hampshire when a tree fell on him and another man as they worked to clear another fallen tree, CNN affiliate WMUR reported. The second man was injured. The men's names were not released.

Two would-be rescuers, a visitor from Macedonia and a Holocaust survivor are also among the victims, officials say.

Michael Kenwood, an emergency medical technician in Princeton, New Jersey, was part of a team checking on a car that was swamped by flooding on a city street, CNN affiliate WPVI reported.

Commanders had called the swift-water rescue team back after determining the rushing water was too dangerous. On the return, two of the team members slipped; one resurfaced and got out safely but Kenwood did not, WPVI reported.

In Spring Valley, New York, David Reichenberg, 50, a father of four, was electrocuted Sunday while saving a man and his 6-year-old son from a downed power line, the New York Daily News reported.

Reichenberg was able to separate the boy and man from a fence that had become electrified but then touched the wire himself, according to the Daily News. The boy and his father suffered burns, but Reichenberg was killed.

Rescuers could not approach Reichenberg for several minutes until utility workers shut off power to the downed line, a witness said. Reichenberg was pronounced dead at the scene.

Twenty-year-old visiting worker Ivana Taseva drowned in the Deerfield River in southern Vermont, the Burlington Free Press reported.

Taseva, who was from Macedonia, was part of a work program at the Mount Snow ski area farther north in Dover, where she was on the housekeeping staff, the paper reported.

High water overtook the car carrying Taseva and three male friends; the men were able to escape, but Taseva was not, Wilmington Police Chief Joe Szarejko told the Free Press.

Another European native, Rozalia Stern-Gluck of Brooklyn, New York, drowned when more than 6 feet of water swamped a Catskills cottage where she was staying, the New York Daily News reported.

Stern-Gluck, 82, was born in Russia and had survived the Holocaust, a Hasidic community leader in Brooklyn told the paper.

"She survived Hitler, but she couldn't survive Irene," Isaac Abraham said.

Sharon Stein, 68, of Slingerlands, New York, was swept away in the Onesquethaw Creek in Clarksville, CNN affiliate WNYT reported.  She had last been seen Sunday putting belongings into her car as she and her husband, Geoffrey Stein, prepared to evacuate their home along the rushing creek, according to CNN affiliate WTEN.

Neighbor Patty Pietro told WTEN she had turned down an offer from Sharon Stein to help her move furniture to an upper floor.

"I said, 'I'll call you if I think you can help me,'" Pietro said, starting to weep. "The next thing I hear (is) she's gone. Just think, if I had had her at my house - really, she'd be here."

A New York City man apparently drowned when he went to check on his boat at the height of the storm Sunday morning, CNN affiliate NY1 reported.

The body of Jose Sierra, 68, of the Bronx was found in the water near Sunset Marina on City Island around 8 p.m. Sunday, police told NY1.

In Rutland, Vermont, a city employee was among the dead. Michael Joseph Garofano, 55, Rutland's water treatment plant supervisor, died; his son Michael Gregory Garofano, 24, is missing.

The men went to check on the city's water reservoir as the storm raged on Sunday, CNN affiliate WCAX reported.

"Apparently the bank gave way and they were swept away," Frank Urso, the elder Garofano's brother-in-law, said.

The father's body was recovered in the Vermont river; searchers are looking for the son.

"I feel hollow inside," Urso told WCAX. "I've had an emptiness in my stomach since I heard about it."

Mikita Fox, 23, of Wikemikong, Ontario, and Danine Swamp, 24, of Nedrow, New York, died after their car plunged from a washed-out bridge into the Great Chazy River in Altona, New York, near the Vermont line and the Canadian border, WCAX reported.

"When I looked out there, I saw the taillights," witness Lionel Peryea told WCAX. "I tried yelling, but it was no good. The river was such a roar. It was unreal. That was the last I seen of it."

In Ayden, North Carolina, Tim Avery, 50, was crushed by a falling tree as he watched TV in his living room, Town Manager Adam Mitchell said. Avery's sister hadn't heard from him since the storm passed through on Saturday, so she went to check on him and found the tree lying on the house, CNN affiliate WRAL reported.

Similar circumstances killed 11-year-old Zahir Robinson: A tree fell onto his Newport News, Virginia, apartment Saturday as he lay on his bed, CNN affiliate WAVY reported.

Charles Kelley, a security guard, had tried to rescue Zahir.

"When you can't save somebody, that's when it hurts the most, you know what I mean?" he told WAVY.

Shane Seaver of Bristol, Connecticut, had been working on a remodeling project Sunday at his friend Ray Clyma's house, the Hartford Courant newspaper reported. As the storm was dying down, the two men decided to take a canoe to check out flooding in the neighborhood, but the vessel was swept away by the Pequabuck River.

"We had no intention of getting in the river," Clyma told the Courant. "It just happened really fast. Once the water took us, there was nothing we could do."

The rushing water carried the canoe under tree branches and a bridge, and 46-year-old Seaver disappeared. His body was found Sunday night.

"He was a great guy," Clyma told the Courant. "He would have done anything for anybody. This is a real tough time."

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Filed under: Connecticut • Flooding • Hurricane Irene • New Jersey • New York • North Carolina • U.S. • Vermont • Weather
soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Luigi

    40 is based on a simple analysis that most people can follow. If you really want to determine the loss of life (or rather the change in mean life expectancy) you'll have to factor in issues like the economic loss and follow that through to people not spending money they otherwise would be spending on food or medical care.

    That's the actual perspective. Now, how many people are able to do that sort of analysis? I'm not. Are you? How many people at CNN can do economic analysis (not counting someone in the non-news finance dept)? Even if CNN had someone, what small % would understand?

    August 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I've done it in the past, with a lot of help by actuaries and accountants. It's a brutal math problem collection.
      We do a similar process on making risk assessments and cost of mitigation calculation for businesses. One doesn't spend a million to protect $100k.

      Wow! Just saw some pictures of USMC vehicles rescuing people stranded in high water in their homes, with the vehicles under water up to the top of the vehicle door frames! THAT brings back some memories!
      Gotta love the lengths that the Marines go to with their vehicle capabilities. Our Army models couldn't ford as deep. But then, we don't assault beaches, Marines do.

      August 30, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • jdhuegel1

      My circa 1970's deuce and a half and five-ton BOTH came equipped with a snorkel. BOTH vehicles could drive submerged. Not sure what Army vehicles you're referencing... If its old CJ2A/B models, ok – but the bigger boys can swim.

      August 31, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Li

    @ addison > you keep it in perspective. what an idiotic comment to make on this very sad story of people killed during a terrible storm.

    August 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ldean

    Here. You can use my hot water bottle to thaw out that cold, calcified heart of yours. You make me proud to live in American.

    August 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      I'm glad you live in AMERICAN because Americans are tired of dealing with namby pamby lovers who live in a perfect world.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JW

    My cousin was one of the people killed by this awful storm. Stick your perspective where the sun doesn't shine you creep.

    August 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sad in Texas

      I'm so sorry for your loss, JW. This hurricane was (is)devastating on so many levels. Its impact will affect so many for so long. Losing a loved-one to a storm is beyond comprehension. Please try and ignore the trolls who post on comment boards like this. They are clueless and heartless. Surround yourself with compassionate friends. Lean on them. Let them comfort you.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mick

      Please accept my condolences. Death is our enemy no matter when it strikes. 1 Corinthians 15:26

      Soon we will see the end to not only natural disasters but wickedness as well. (Psalms 37)

      Thoughts and prayers with your family.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • DebS

      I'm so sorry for your loss. 🙁

      August 31, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. kgriggs0207

    Please be aware that "trolls" (people who live on Internet comment boards) love to post comments on tragic stories to upset other readers. Please ignore them.

    August 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hang in there...

    A man dies saving a boy and his child...a 12 year old dies laying in his bed. And the other 38 are all tragic. Unfortunately in this day and age of our me society, we forget our fellow man, and the dirty few are still around to joke about it. They worry about themselves and their precious taxes, yet find no compassion in the suffering of their fellow man. I've been to ground zero, I was in the guard during Katrina, and I can only hope for the best for my fellow Americans from North Carolina up to New England. God Bless.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • hilo, HI

      -th eboy in his own bed, Yes, sympathy. The HERO out there to rescue, no words for that man's selfless humanity.
      The 50-comething out rubbernecking -WITH HIS CHILD IN TOW??? -If he hadn't died, cps should have been called.

      PPL, if there are downed power lines all over the place -DO NOT take your kid for a walk.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • hilo, HI

      OK no need to correct me, the man who died was saving the boy from his idiot father. He maybe should have stopped there.
      Now someone can question surviving dad why that man died saving his kid -and him, from walking about after a hurricane.
      I've been through them too, ppl can't seem to help wanting to catch all the action -and many died b/c they didn't listen -including rescue workers and kids.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      You KNOW that he was "rubber necking" with his kid in tow? It's not possible that they ran from their home during the storm after a tree cut it in half? Or heard an explosion and investigated the cause, which turned out to be a downed wire?
      Assumptions are dangerous things. Especially without all of the facts.

      August 30, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sev

    Why......whyyyyyyyyyy are people out in the storm. Read through the fatalities and most you will find were because people were being stupid and going out in a storm. Remember people....you're not invincible. Now the few that were killed by fallen trees on their house...very unfortunate. There's nothing they could do. And those trying to save others...also unfortunate...but had the people not been outside..they would not have needed rescue. Heed the warnings people..and you won't die..or get others killed trying to save you. Even after the storms gone..there's a reason they say lay low....how hard is it?!?!?! So stupid

    August 30, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Let's see. Two were definitely idiots for canoeing in a flood.
      The man and his son, no reason listed as to why they were outside. For all that is known from the story, they could've been outside because their house was smashed in half by a tree. Or they could have gone out to investigate an explosion, caused by downed wires and got too close. Oops.
      Then, there was the water treatment plant manager who went out to the dam to check it, which was his job. When in a hazardous mission like that, one NEVER, EVER goes out alone. One also doesn't stand real close to the other person either. Oops. A small error to novices in emergencies like this will frequently kill them. It's killed a few seasoned professionals too.

      August 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Drew

    I would like to thank the rest of the world for making the case of why we should help them when disaster strikes. Just like Katrina the International community has gone above and beyond. LMAO I will never donate time or money again to a foreign cause.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Well the fact that over 100 countries and aid organizations offered or sent aid, rescue equipment or monetary donations to the US after Katrina shows how ignorant your post was.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      In fact, we TURNED DOWN quite a bit of foreign aid after Katrina – and never collected on 95% of the rest that we didn't openly refuse.

      August 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Graham

      Please explain what you are talking about!

      August 30, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Graham

      Perhaps this will make you less ignorant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_response_to_Hurricane_Katrina

      Some people from my town of 60,000 people, (not a US town), quit their jobs to go and help rebuild the area within weeks of the disaster. Your comment makes me sick that you feel this way!

      August 30, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Drew is claiming that no foreign governments have offered aid for Katrina or this disaster. For Katrina, it's a bald faced lie, as billions were offered and quite a bit was refused by the US government.
      So far, I've yet to hear of any offers, but it's still pretty soon to tell. Assessment of the scale of the disaster first needs to be known so that a reasonable offer of assistance could be offered.
      And probably refused again...

      August 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sad in Texas

      Drew – You can't fool us. You're probably some pimply-faced 15 year-old, clueless kid (or a 50+ clueless old geezer) who trolls these comment boards trying to sound like you have more than a single brain cell in that protrusion you call a head. The amount of International support for the United States after a tragedy would take your breath away, but you'll never understand because you are happily ignorant of the facts.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nancy

    Reading about the flooding reminds me of the 1977 flood here in Johnstown, Pa–over 80 dead, economic ramifications that affected the region for years after, families torn apart. Sending my prayers to all those affected by this tragedy.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hypatia

    Damn, Drew, you're a vitriolic hateful ass, aren't you?

    August 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ralph

    We are so lucky to have the technology that allows to have lost so few lives. While each death is monumental for each family I am glad it was not as big as predicted.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Suncatcher

    We need a new law to protect our first responders like EMT Kenwood who put himself, as did his colleagues, in harm's way to rescue an idiot driving in flooded streets. (Turns out the driver had abandoned the flooded car).

    Henceforth – such drivers should be charged with paying for all first responder funeral expenses, the college education of any of their children and the living expenses of the deceased family until the children are 18.

    The police have the car so they know who owned it. Put that person's name, photo, employer and contact info on the newspaper front page, above the fold. They should do this for ANYONE caught driving when told not to, whether they cause the death of emergency personnel or not. Enough is enough. There are too many stupid and selfish morons out there, especially when the weather is bad. If you can't stop them, then make them pay – literally.

    August 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • imastarchick

      R U a lawyer or what?

      August 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      You're half right. There SHOULD be laws protecting the families of our first responders, police and EMS workers.
      I'd happily pay extra tax to see to their families welfare, should the worst happen to them.
      Rather than abandon them, like was attempted repeatedly with the 9/11 responders.
      But, oh brilliant one, do you know WHY that car was out on the road? Should the owner have remained in their house, even if it was washing away or collapsing? Perhaps you'd like someone with a medical problem to remain home and die with dignity?
      Your proposal is beyond idiotic, you'd also nail those who you wish to protect, as they're trying to get to the police station or fire house, should they get caught in that flood.
      You're as bad as this congress we have!

      August 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    Rubbing salt in the wounds of the surviving family members doesn't help them.

    August 30, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bribarian

    lol we'll be hearing about "holocaust survivors" well into the 2100s i imagine

    August 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      One could only wish. Why? Do you dislike those people surviving to a ripe, old age?

      August 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobJ

      I have an idea, stop reading the news. You are are far too ignorant to understand it. Then you won't have to hear about anything

      August 31, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. Hasselhoff

    Get ready for the next hurricane looks like this year it's not the gulf but the east coast that's gonna hit again.

    August 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
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