A baseball team is comprised of 25 players who all share a common vision: winning a championship.
But when Hurricane Sandy struck one year ago, the word “team” took on a different meaning for two Staten Island brothers.
Dom and Mike Camerada are members of the St. Joseph’s College, Clinton Hill, baseball team. Their home in the New Dorp Beach section of Staten Island – located just 300 yards away from Lower Bay – was severely damaged in the storm.
In 21 years in their home, the Cameradas never had a drop of water from previous storms, so therefore the family decided to stay with their home during Sandy. Two days before the storm, they tied everything down outside and hoped the hurricane would not be as potent as predicted.
However, the storm was worse than anyone could have imagined.
As the floodwaters began rushing up the block, Dom was heading back to his house but was stopped by a neighbor saying that an elderly woman was trapped in the basement. Without even thinking, Dom waded through three feet of water and helped the woman up to the first floor.
Meanwhile, Mike moved his brother’s car several blocks away to try to save it from the deluge. Both brothers finally made their way back to their house to relative safety.
But their father, Domenick Sr., was still out trying to help his neighbors. A few transformers had exploded on the block, and as Domenick Sr. grabbed his neighbor’s fence, he was electrocuted.
He was able though to make his way back to his own home, but his own transformer had also exploded – unbeknownst to him – so when he grabbed the doorknob, he was electrocuted again and pinned to the front door.
He thought the end was near for him, but he was able to maneuver himself around to the side of his house, where his sons Dom and Mike and his wife Diane were waiting to pull him through the window and up to the second floor to safety.
The next morning, Dom and Mike assessed the damage to the family’s home. The water level had reached 10 feet at the peak of the storm, so all of the Cameradas possessions were destroyed.
“Once the sun came up, I was the first one to head downstairs and evaluate, and it made me sick to my stomach,” said Dom, a junior catcher at St. Joe’s.
True Meaning of Teamwork
Both Dom and Mike are graduates of Msgr. Farrell H.S. in Staten Island, so the day after the storm hit, a few of Dom’s former teammates came to the house to see if they could help out.
Word spread quickly, and soon about 20 current and former Msgr. Farrell baseball players and coaches arrived at the house ready to help with the recovery by either clearing 10-foot-tall piles of debris that had accumulated during the storm or bringing food and supplies.
“Monsignor Farrell’s motto is ‘Vir Fidelis’ which means brotherhood, so once there was a distress beacon – Vir Fidelis is down – everyone came to the rescue from that school and came to help,” said Mike, a freshman center fielder at St. Joe’s.
For a week, the ballplayers arrived at sun up and didn’t leave until sundown as they helped their teammates Dom and Mike return to some semblance of normalcy. These are the actions that define the true meaning of teamwork.
“It was a really generous thing for them (teammates) to do, designating their time when they were fortunate enough to be unaffected, except for the power outage,” Dom said. “It meant a lot to myself and my family that we were in their minds during this whole ordeal.”
Years from now when Dom and Mike recall their memories of Hurricane Sandy, they will of course remember the devastation to their home and possessions. But they will also never forget the support they received from their teammates in a time of distress.
It’s funny how baseball often mirrors real life. Dom and Mike saw firsthand how teammates sacrifice to pick each other up. In baseball, that sacrifice could include bunting to move over a runner or making a clutch defensive play after a teammate makes an error.
But in life, these young men sacrificed their time and efforts to come to the aid of a pair of teammates.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a win or lose situation,” Mike said. “When you see everyone working here and stepping up to the plate, that’s basically what they can do at the plate in real baseball situations.”
“Sandy was the prime example of demonstrating that teammates are the people there for you when you need them most, even if it’s off the diamond and in your own personal life,” Dom said. “I couldn’t thank them enough for everything that they did for me.”