Local police get help rebuilding from officers around the country
07:24 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 5, 2006
For a lot of people, Labor Day was not about relaxing but repairing their flood damaged homes. One veteran NOPD officer received some much needed help from people he didn't know a week ago.
|Sgt. Eric Berger had several newfound friends joining him at a family barbecue on Monday. Fellow officers and first responders from New York and Michigan took their vacation time to come to city to rebuild the Berger's New Orleans East home.
"There guys are even more fantastic to come down here to help me do this…It's just amazing that total strangers come down here to help you out," Berger said. "I have friends for life now."
Chris Lyons, who does Search and Rescue, said he could not sit at home while people needed help.
For the last seven days, the volunteer crew has replaced the electrical system and hung every piece of sheetrock. They're scheduled to go home Tuesday morning, but worked into the night to finish the job.
"It's much different than just sending a check in mail," said Jeff Jones, a sheriff's deputy from Michigan. "Actually coming down here you get that real feeling of accomplishment and just how grateful the people of New Orleans are to us. It's been awesome."
Berger, an 18-year veteran of the NOPD, said the prices he was getting from contractors to do the work was sky high and that he didn't know what he was going to do until he got the call from the group Cops Helping Cops.
"We're almost there. We're getting electrical done and putting sheetrock, putting the walls up. To me, that's the major stuff…we'll be in the house a lot sooner than we anticipated," Berger said.
Berger said he couldn't thank the other policemen enough, but has already signed up with the group to return the favor and help other police officers when needed.
But these policemen said they've been thanked already.
"One of the kids makes the comment, 'Wow, I got a room again.' And it just sent a chill up your spine. And you're like, that's cool to be able to give that back to somebody," Lyons said.
For more information:
If you would like to donate or volunteer, or if you're a first responder who needs help with your house, log on to the group's website www.copshelpcops.com.