Norristown firefighters honored for heroism during Tropical Storm Ida

"You don't go in it for recognition...You do it because you want to help out your community," one firefighter said.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021
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The firefighters made about 50 water rescues over 36 straight hours during the historic flooding caused by Ida.

NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A group of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania firefighters were honored Tuesday night for their acts of heroism during Tropical Storm Ida last September.

The Norristown Fire Department worked around the clock to rescue people from raging floodwaters after the storm dropped record amounts of rainfall.

In one instance, with no boats available, the firefighters waded through rising sewage water to rescue a man trapped in his SUV.

It was one of about 50 water rescues made over the 36 straight hours those first responders worked during the historic flooding caused by Ida.

"(We) had to evacuate folks from their homes, apartments, businesses," said Fire Chief Thomas O'Donnell. "Wherever worked took us that night, it's where the fire department and its crews wound up."

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from their homes.

A photo shows firefighter Anthony Molchaney cradling one of his youngest rescues.

"This family, in particular, was trapped on the second floor of this apartment building," Molchaney said.

"As a parent, it's the only thing you can do. You think of you in that situation and, hopefully, you have someone like us that are willing to put their lives on the line and go out and make those kinds of rescues."

On Tuesday, 11 of those brave firefighters who say they were just doing their jobs were recognized by the Norristown City Council, receiving awards of merit and heroism.

"You don't go in it for recognition, you don't go in it for thanks. Very rarely do people say thank you. You don't do it for that," said volunteer firefighter Gregory Scott. "You do it because you want to help out your community."

About 67 families in Norristown remain displaced from Ida. Members of the fire department, along with other community groups, are working to provide them with gift cards for the holidays.