ELMHURST – Silvia Bartolone woke up to seven feet of water in the basement of her dream home on April 18.
"That was probably the most distressing, [the] first half hour," said Bartolone, who moved into her new home on Swain Avenue with her husband and two children last December.
As soon as the street emerged from beneath the water, 16-year-old Sarah Milkowski crossed the street and began helping the Bartolones carry sopping wet furniture out of their basement.
"As soon as I started seeing people coming out with stuff, we all just kind of rushed over because it's the kind of job where you just need as many people as you can," Sarah said.
Her kindness touched Bartolone, who didn't even know the Milkowskis before last month's flooding broke her basement window and poured into her unfinished, but fully furnished basement.
"Especially a teenage girl has a lot of options, and there's places to hide if you don't want to do something," said Bartolone, commending Sarah for being the only teenager to volunteer to help them.
Sarah's generosity reminded Bartolone of why she moved to Elmhurst in the first place.
She recalls sitting in an Elmhurst Starbucks with her husband, Brian, pouring over listings in all the different suburbs. Silvia Bartolone then noticed a teenager pick up a $10 bill outside the coffee shop, bring it in and ask if anyone had dropped it.
"I said to my husband, 'This is where we're going to move,'" Silvia recalled.
A sophomore at York High School, Sarah reaffirms the good nature Bartolone saw in that other Elmhurst teenager.
"People need role models like Sarah," Bartolone said.
Sarah Milkowski is no stranger to working hard. She plays volleyball, basketball and softball. Even after laboring until 11 p.m. on a school night without a single complaint during the floods, she remained modest.
"Well I didn't really think I did that much," she said. "I just kind of was doing what I thought was right."