NY Post - November 30, 2012by LIA KIM and BETH DEFALCO
They haven't forgotten.
A team of New Orleans firefighters today will help repair the home of an elderly woman whose FDNY son volunteered in the Big Easy after Hurricane Katrina.
Retired firefighter Jim Russell -- from Ladder Co. 152 in Gravesend, Brooklyn -- saw his 96-year-old mother, Anne, displaced after three feet of water flooded her Gerritsen Beach home.
She stayed in the house for three days after the storm -- until it got so bad she had to be moved to a nursing facility.
The water pushed up from the basement, damaging furniture and walls and bringing in mold, said Russell, who in 2005 helped the recovery efforts after Katrina.
Today, the kindness of the 9/11 first responder will be returned when a team of New Orleans firefighters helps him rehab his childhood home.
"It's not payback," Russell insisted.
"It's just out of respect for each other and just giving a pat on the back when you need help."
Russell's own home, in Belle Harbor, Queens, was destroyed by Sandy.
But, he explained, "this is Mom's house. This house has to be done first."
About three dozen New Orleans firefighters have arrived in some of the city's worst-hit areas.
They said they know what it's like to need a hand after a natural disaster.
"We could relate. I lost my house during Katrina. I felt helpless. The New York firemen arrived and it was like the cavalry were coming in," said New Orleans Fire Capt. Billy Shanks, whose own Louisiana home had to be bulldozed after nine feet of water gushed in during Katrina.
His crew members, who are here on their own dime, started out in Long Beach, LI. They moved on to the Rockaways and Breezy Point in Queens yesterday.
"We're a brotherhood. It's a great bond we have with them," Shanks said.
Shanks and Russell hadn't been acquainted. The New Orleans firefighters were directed to Russell's house by a charity group organizing the effort.
So far, Shanks said, he has been most moved walking through Breezy Point -- where more than 100 homes burned down -- and seeing a large American flag hanging from the empty frame of a home.
Below the flag was written: "Better. Bigger. Stronger."
"That meant a lot to me. It brought back memories," Shanks said.
Russell said he was inspired to help in 2005 after Katrina because Louisiana firefighters had assisted the city after 9/11.