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. beancounter

    Rubbing salt in the wounds doesn't help the grieving families, but maybe the next hurricane will have a smaller death toll if fewer twits ignore warnings and evacuation orders. God bless the survivors of all that died, heroes or not.

    August 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Diane

    I almost have no words for some of these unkind hearts. I live in CT and we have had a 100% rate of no electricity for days. We have had loss of life (not due to negligence), no ice, no water, no gas....and yet; the first bit of of power I receive to connect to the outside world, are these comments. Thanks to those who cared about us, just like we care for others during a disaster.

    August 30, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Cool! You got power back! My sister in law, here in Pennsylvania just got her power back this afternoon.
      No fear, many are kids, trying to get a reaction. Others are just misanthropes who hate everyone and everything.
      The sane people of this nation outnumber them by a LOT. We feel for you and wish you a speedy recovery with miniscule loss.
      Rest up, then recover as quickly as possible and rebuild even better!
      The rest of us will raise cain until the money necessary for assistance in recovery and rebuilding is freed up by congress. I can think of a certain TSA and parent organization named DHS that could use a budget cut, especially after they've wasted a few billion so far on canceled and incomplete projects.

      August 30, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • DebS

      Diane, I'm truly sorry for what you all have (are) suffering through. Hopefully, it will cause the rest of us to take a moment and be thankful about what we do have.

      Godspeed to everyone affected and to our government getting funds to help in the recovery process.

      August 31, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Diane

    Thanks Wzrd1.......really nice words right about now!
    Diane

    August 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. saywhat

    A small Arab country Qatar established a $ 100 million 'Qatar Katrina Fund' in Jan, 2007. The entire amount has since been delivered and put to work for the victims.

    August 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. s kel

    JW my heart dropped when I read about your family member. Forget about some of these evil hateful blogs on here. My heart goes out to you and the rest of your family.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Al

    Some of these are very sad indeed. But some of them make me scratch my head for a while. When you know a hurricane is coming you don't go driving around, evacuating at the last second, or go kite surfing. How did they survive this long is the real question.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. melissa smith

    Thats all I have to say is there are some ignorant people out there. Im from Escanaba,Mi. and one of my friends and her family were caught in the floods. Im sending out my prayers and love to all I hope you get back on your feet. I love you Charolotte Hunt glad you mom and the family got out alive!!!!

    August 30, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. smitvict

    Islam – a religion of peace and tolerance

    August 30, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Really???

    My heart is filled with compassion for those we have lost & their families. My sincere sympathy is with them. Trolls; you all need to find something better to do. Sniping at bereaved people is exceedingly crass & only shows everyone how ill bred you are. Please, grow up emotionally.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. 53246

    more people die!

    August 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • caw

      Please feel free to lead the way.

      August 31, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. rmoffatt

    I would like to thank everyone, from around the world, that stepped up to assist Americans, in their time of need. Their efforts, given how often Americans have stepped up to the plate for their countries, are surely appreciated. Isn't it wonderful that one might count on another – especially when those in need have given so much.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • mister bister

      WHAT??? Who ever helps americans? It's the other way around. Always helping everybody else except themselves.

      August 31, 2011 at 3:40 am | Report abuse |
    • LADYDI

      Nobody ever comes to help the USA – we can stand on our own two feet !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 31, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. s kel

    yes rmorratt it is wonderful.

    August 30, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nik green

    In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, two of the first countries to offer aid were Cuba and Iran. The pledges from these two 'enemy nations' were the largest international aid packages offered to help the United States in its time of distress. Iran offered to send humanitarian aid and 20 million barrels of crude oil (worth >$1,000,000,000), and Cuba offered to send 1,586 doctors and 26 tons of medicine.

    The aid from both Cuba and Iran was rejected by the State Department. Also, before the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Cuba said they would donate their share of the winnings to Katrina victims to ensure the United States embargo against Cuba was not violated. However, after the tournament, the U.S. government refused to allow the donation.

    In other words, the Bush Administration was so bloody-minded, arrogant and plain evil that they preferred to allow our own citizens to needlessly suffer, than accept two extraordinarily generous offers from two demonized nations, and start a diplomatic recovery.

    In the case of a future major catastrophe like Katrina, it would be of little surprise if some nations shy away from offering help, knowing the kind of response delivered by some of our more psychotic officials.

    August 30, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      What else is to be expected of a dry drunk like Bush? They usually refuse help of any kind.

      August 31, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      @ Ladydi

      Besides cuba & Iran's offer of help, the small Arab country Qatar established 'Qatar Katrina Fund' with $ 100 million on Jan 8, 2007. The entire amount has since been recieved & put to use for the victims.
      We must acknowledge those who lend a hand in times of distress.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cindy

    To all of those who have been affected by this tragedy please try to ignore the insensitive comments and be assured that the vast majority of us feel terrible about what you've gone through. Americans are very resilient and I'm sure you'll get through this latest blow. I've sent a donation and my prayers are with you all.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. mmarintx.2011

    The craze coverage to this anemic storm was shameful at the very least. CNN's Rob Marciano looked ridiculous when he was in Long Island barely able to stand while dozens of people stroll behind him like nothing. Then you had Anderson Cooper actually disappointed when he was inform that Irene was a tropical storm and there would be minimum weather effects on NYC. What a bunch of clowns hyping this storm for ratings.

    August 31, 2011 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
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