NEW: Angela Dresch, 13, was among the storm's first victims on Staten Island
Sandy leaves at least 165 dead, including more than 95 in the U.S.
Other victims include teen friends, a firefighter and off-duty police officer
"When Mother Nature sends her wrath your way, we're at her mercy," Atlantic City mayor says
Roots ripped out of the ground as a large oak tree fell toward Olga Raymond’s front door. With it came a power line.
Raymond had just left her one-story home in Mansfield, Connecticut. Neighbors told CNN affiliate CTNOW that a smaller pine tree had already snapped off onto Raymond’s roof, startling her. She had a flashlight in hand and was on her way to a neighbor’s house when the bigger tree crashed down.
The 90-year-old woman – a “spirited” bowler and grandmother of four – was killed instantly.
Across the Northeast, more stories such as Raymond’s are being reported. Another tree, another town, another broken home.
And the death toll from Superstorm Sandy climbs.
Sandy battered the coast with 90-mph winds, leaving at least 165 dead from Haiti to Canada. More than 95 were killed in the United States. Many of the victims were believed to be safely holed up in their homes.
“When Mother Nature sends her wrath your way, we’re at her mercy, and so all we can do is stay prayerful and do the best that we can,” Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford told CNN.
‘This is our friend’
Friends of Angela Dresch, 13, were walking along a tattered road in Tottenville on New York’s Staten Island when they spotted a photo lying among some debris. They rushed to give it to their pastor, the Rev. Francis Dias.
“They picked it up and showed it to me and said ‘This is our friend, Angela,’ ” Dias said. “It had floated from the house onto the road.”
Angela was one of the first victims of Superstorm Sandy identified on Staten Island. The teen’s body was found not too far from her home early Tuesday after a surge of water demolished her family’s house on the edge of the borough’s south shore, according to SILive.com.
Neighbors told SILive.com that the family had evacuated from Irene last year and were robbed. This time, they decided to stay behind.
George Dresch was reported missing shortly after the storm passed through. His body was discovered late Wednesday blocks from his house, according to SILive.com. His wife, Patricia, was found earlier in the week and transported to the hospital, where she is reportedly in stable condition.
The Dreschs were dedicated parishioners at Our Lady Help of Christians Church, Dias said. Patricia Dresch is the secretary to the religious education program’s coordinator.
“Patricia has served our community for over 20 years as a dutiful and faithful catechist,” Dias said. “The parishioners – both parents and students – love her and respect her very much.”
George Dresch was always at the church helping out, Dias said, whether it was for the education program or the Christmas pageant. Support has been pouring in for his wife as she struggles to recover and deal with the loss of her husband and youngest child.
Angela’s friends have set up a memorial page for her on Facebook. “Her classmates are devastated,” Dias said.
“Can’t sleep, dying inside knowing that this nightmare is the reality we have to face,” the page’s admin Giovanna Cocuzza posted. “I know you’re up there Ang, please help us get through this. We love you and miss you so much. Why did you have to go?”
Shortly before her younger brother was killed, Ashley Robson was weathering Superstorm Sandy like many others in New York.
“Collecting rain that is coming through the roof #thankssady (sic) #couldbedoingsomethingsomuchbetter,” the teen tweeted at 5:52 p.m. Monday.
Less than two hours later, Michael Robson, 13, and his friend Jack Baumler, 11, were killed by a 100-foot oak tree that crashed into the family room where they were seeking shelter.
The small suburban town of North Salem is now in mourning.
“Waking up this morning and realizing it wasn’t just a bad dream. … My love prayers go out to both families #ripjackandmichael,” Camilla Fay tweeted Tuesday.
“My heart is breaking a thousand times over,” Talyah Fae posted.
Michael and Jack used to play basketball near their homes on Bonnieview Street. Neighbors and friends told The Journal News that they were good kids and tight friends.
“Heaven got two all-stars too soon,” said Daniel Seymour, Jack’s uncle.
In the line of duty
#LODD stands for line of duty death. It’s used to describe the brave men and women who fall while serving their communities – working to save others in times of need.
Russell Neary, 55, a lieutenant with the volunteer fire department in Easton, Connecticut, was killed Monday night while responding to a call, according to CNN affiliate CTNOW.com. Debris blocked his truck’s route on Judd Road; he was working to clear a path when a tree limb struck him.
“It was a line of duty death,” Easton Fire Chief James Girardi told NewsTimes.com. “It’s the first one we’ve ever had. And we’re not over the shock of it. His death is a tremendous loss to his family, our department and the community.”
New York Police Department Officer Artur Kasprzak may have been off-duty on Monday night, but he was hard at work saving the lives of those in a house on Doty Avenue on Staten Island.
With flood water “surging” into his house, Kasprzak was able to shepherd six adults and a 1-year-old child into the attic, according to James Duffy, a police spokesman.
Around 7:30 p.m., he told one of the adults he was going back down to check the basement. When he didn’t return, someone called 911.
“NYPD personnel from the Emergency Service and SCUBA units immediately responded to the residence using Zodiac boats and Jet Skis,” the spokesman said, “but could not access the home due to down, electrified power lines in the water.”
Officers discovered Kasprzak’s body “unconscious and unresponsive” the next morning.
“My boyfriend was an amazing man,” Kasprzak’s girlfriend told HLN in a Facebook message. “He had a heart of gold. He always put others before himself. He was my everything. I am just too upset to speak. Just know that the world lost an amazing person with a huge heart. He will forever be missed.”
At 7:38 Monday night, New Jersey’s Mendham Township police received a 911 call about a car accident on North Gate Road.
Richard Everett was driving with his wife, Elizabeth, and two of their children when a 100-foot tall, 3-foot wide tree fell on the hood of their pickup. The Everetts were returning from the Blue Crest Riding Center in Long Valley, which they owned and operated.
By the time officers arrived, the children, 11 and 14, had managed to free themselves from the wreck. Their parents were still trapped inside.
Two passers-by stopped to help police officers as they worked to free the Everetts from the crushed cab. Soon after the fire department and first aid squad arrived to help.
Despite rescuers’ best efforts, the couple died at the scene.
“My thoughts and prayers to the Everett family,” @CoreyJett tweeted. “Horrible tragedy no one should ever go through. We’re all with you in this terrible time RIP.”
Have you lost a loved one to Superstorm Sandy? Share your story on iReport.
CNN’s Matthew Mochow contributed to this report.