.

A Man On A Rescue Mission

Point Borough Council hears how roads supervisor put a front loader to work to help borough residents escape Sandy's flooding

As the borough's firefighters, first aid volunteers and police officers worked their way through the wee hours of the night, rescuing Point Borough residents in the first hours after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, there was an unlikely rescuer at work.

Rolling into some of the hardest hit areas of the borough, where the water was in some cases 5 feet deep or more, Jude Walker plucked residents from their flooded homes … in the borough's front loader.

“Some climbed into the bucket from their front doors, some climbed through the windows of their houses,” Walker said. One family was rescued from their home’s second-floor balcony.

Walker shared his story at the Point Borough Council meeting Tuesday night, as the council discussed the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Fire chief Dan Mulligan said the fire department was busy rescuing people from flood waters, going into some areas using the department's Zodiac boat to reach people who were trapped. 

"One woman broke down after we rescued her family," Mulligan said.

But Mayor William Schroeder singled Walker out for his unusual efforts, because it wasn't in the job description of those in the public works department.

"I walked into the emergency management center and all I could hear was this guy on the radio, in the middle of nowhere in a front end loader saving people,” Schroeder said.

“I heard Jude was rescuing people in the loader,” said Bob Forsyth, the superintendent of public works, who added that he said to others, “Is that something we do?”

For Walker, a longtime member of the fire department, rescuing people was absolutely something he does. And when the dispatcher called him, screaming about people needing to be rescued, he knew he had to act.

The road department had been out clearing trees Monday in the midst of the storm, Walker said, but as the eye passed and the wind began to pick up again, they sent the department's workers home to safety.

He hadn't been asleep long when he got the call.

“That tidal surge really changed a lot of people’s lives,” Walker said.

He called into service the piece of equipment where the engine sat the highest above the ground, so it would be safe from the flood waters. And when he pulled the front end loader down Christine Court at 3:45 a.m. to rescue a man and his dog who were trapped by more than 5 feet of water, Walker said, “I knew right then it was going to be one of the longest days of my life.”

"The water had reached the box spring when we got them out," he said.

Walker, aided first by members of the fire department and later by two other members of the road department -- George Daley and Mike Kralovich --  continued working in some of the most flooded streets in Sunshine Harbor and Bay Point Harbor, rescuing whole families who had been trapped.

“We had six people and two dogs in the bucket” on one rescue, he said. “I wasn’t turning anyone away because they wanted to bring their dog or cat.”

In all, he said, they rescued 150 people over the course of 17 hours in the front end loader. Some were people who had medical issues, and he found himself relaying medical evaluations to EMTs as he transported them in the bucket.

"Even that was unique," Walker said.

Once rescued, people were transferred to school buses at a staging area set up at Rue Lido and Beach Boulevard, and they were taken from there to the borough’s refuge center at the Borough High School, Walker said.

“The superintendent gave us two buses and two drivers,” he said. It was a tremendous help.

“I can honestly say it is one of the proudest days of my life,” said Walker, a lifelong resident of the borough. “There was no loss of life.”

Lana Reitman-LaFage November 21, 2012 at 11:51 AM
It's nice to see an unexpected hero receive the recognition that he was not seeking for his tremendous heroic acts. I live in the Boro of point pleasant and am proud to read a town employee thought out of the box to keep my neighbors safe. You are a hero to many people. You gave them many reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving!
lisa November 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Jude is Great!!!
Old Guy November 21, 2012 at 01:03 PM
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Great job, Jude. Also, a heart felt thanks to all who served our communities during the aftermath of Sandy.
Scott Johnston November 21, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Way to go Jude!
Sharon Hopler November 21, 2012 at 01:29 PM
This is a wonderful story. Great job Jude!!!! Thanks for you did!!!!!
pd November 21, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Cheers to this man!
Jean Polhemus~Mabie November 21, 2012 at 02:30 PM
What a brave and wonderful thing to do !! This just proves that Jersey is, and always will be a SHORE thing !!
Concerned4Society November 21, 2012 at 03:07 PM
THIS is a true hero...bless his heart and his soul. I'm a bit surprised, though, that he wasn't arrested for misappropriating his township's resources.
Jenn November 21, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Way to go Jude!! We are all proud of the man you are!! Keep up the good work!!
JAZ November 21, 2012 at 03:38 PM
God bless but lets evacuate next time!
Alex Viecelli November 21, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I saw Jude the night of the storm driving the front end loader down my street. When a tree fell in the street he would come by and move it off the street if he could. he was all over the Boro that night. He worked very hard that night. Great job Jude.
Jen Hanson November 21, 2012 at 03:53 PM
A true hero. We love you, Jude!
Andrea Nardozza November 21, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Jude is a can do kind of man! That's what you need in a disaster. NOT someone saying -is that something we do? In the face of this storm you do whatever needs to be done! We need more people like Jude in charge. Can do kind of people!
Leave it on the Field November 21, 2012 at 06:56 PM
This Thanksgiving we are celebrating "The Front Loader" as we salute Jude Walker - a remarkable local hero who was willing to give his all & do all so neighbors would live! God bless you Jude!
Heather Keefe November 21, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Amazing story. I know I'm thankful to live in Point Pleasant! Thank you, Public Works, firefighters, EMTs, and police officers, for all you've done, especially during Sandy.
toni depaola November 21, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Jude is a wonderful asset to the Borough and is a symbol of all the goodness that is alive and well in Point Pleasant. God bless Jude, the DPW staff, police, fire and first aid as well as the wonderful residents of Point Pleasant. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Pete Jager November 21, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Nice work, Jude! Can't say how good I felt reading about you helping others like this.
Jennie-lyn November 22, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Jude has always been a true hero doing what ever he can for others and never asking for anything in return!! I would have exspected nothing less from him! Its a honor to call him my friend and to see him get the recognition he deserves!!! Have a Happy Safe and very Blessed Thanksgiving!!! XOXOXO
Catsfin November 22, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Jude exudes kindness and capability. I am not surprised by his kind and smart ( and brave) actions during Sandy. Thank you, Jude, for being who you are. Wish we had more men around like you (even better if they're single!)
Penny kelly November 23, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Jude has always been a "will do" kind of guy. That's why we love him!!
julie cherico November 28, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Its great to see someone who is there for the town he grew up in. Way to go.
Ken Rubenstein November 29, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Jude, as always you went above and beyond. You'll always be my hero and that's why i looked up to you in the firehouse and as a man. I'm lucky to have stood in your shadow, Take Care
Virginia Hamlin November 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Proud to call this incredible man my cousin! Not surprised at all that he would do something so generous and brave. He is that kind of a man. Way to go Jude!

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