Sandy aftermath takes native’s home

Superstorm Sandy hit close to home for one Portales resident.

Kelly Cradock said her brother's home in Belle Harbor, N.Y., a community15 miles southwest of Queens, burnt to the ground Tuesday along with 11 others as a result of flooding.

"My brother said it's just devastation everywhere," Cradock said of the New York City area. "He's in the police department, so he's seeing it everywhere."

Cassidy Tibbets, a 2001 Portales High graduate, is a patrol officer for the New York Police Department and a staff sergeant for the U.S. Marine Reserves. He was helping provide disaster relief when his house was destroyed.

"It's funny because I got this weird gut feeling before it happened and I called them before the hurricane (Sandy) to see how they were doing and what they were going to do," Cradock said of her brother's family, "They weren't sure if they were going to evacuate or not because they didn't for the last hurricane. But they did for this one, thank goodness."

Hurricane Sandy, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 30 people on the East Coast, swept through Tibbet's community, destroying homes and damaging others. It was a spark from electrical wiring sparked in a neighborhood home that caused the fire.

"There's no way to get in contact with them at the moment," Cradock continued. "Their cell service isn't working that well. I did get a text from his wife (Barbara) after I messaged her. She said, 'we love you too. We are doing fine.'"

Living in the New York house with Tibbets and his wife were his mother-in-law, Carol Nellen, and his 3-month-old daughter, Riley.

"He (Tibbets) called my mother then my mother contacted me," Cradock said. "She (Cradock's mother) was distraught. She said she feels helpless because she lives in Missouri, so she lives in between family (who is all in Portales and New York)."

Cradock said her brother's family is staying in the house of "a friend of a friend" while Cradock has opened a local Portales bank account at J P Stone Community Bank and is asking local community members to help by donating funds to her brother.

"She just says, 'We're fine; we're alive,'" Cradock said of her sister-in-law. "She's a really strong woman, so she's not one to focus on, 'We've lost everything.' She's not the type to call out for sympathy. But I can't imagine trying to deal with all of this with a newborn."

Cradock said New York native Barbara Tibbets was also living in Belle Harbor where her brother now lives in 2001 when an American Airlines plane crashed into the community, killing everyone aboard and five people on the ground. The incident happened two months after Barbara had lost numerous friends and other loved ones in the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks.

"I was just in shock and I just feel for their loss," Cradock said of the Tibbets losing their home and all their belongings, including the Iowa Jima Memorial sculpture her brother was given last year when he was named Reserve Marine of the Year.

"I can't imagine losing everything," she said. "And they had such a beautiful home and have such a beautiful family. It's just so sad."

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