NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While most people are frustrated by the problems created by Superstorm Sandy, one volunteer had an unexpected windfall.
He hit the lottery jackpot because he came to serve in the storm.
John Turner is now back home in the southern Chicago suburb of Chicago Heights, but he’ll never forget what he saw on the East Coast.
“We saw houses moved down the streets, vehicles turned over,” Turner told CBS 2′s Kristine Johnson.
The 38-year-old Turner runs a water removal business called National Catastrophe Solutions of Chicago. He and his staff cleaned up homes flooded by Superstorm Sandy, including some for free for homeowners who had lost everything.
“Some people didn’t have insurance coverage. Some people never would have expected this. It’s one of those 100 years deals,” Turner said.
It was last Sunday after a hard day of cleanup that Turner bought a New Jersey lottery scratch-off ticket. With a flick of the wrist, he became $100,000 richer.
Turner said he was in utter shock.
“Like this is not happening. Like this is not real,” Turner said.
“He couldn’t believe it. He wanted a lot of confirmation from us and just called a lot of family and told everybody the good news,” Joshua Rivera, one of Turner’s employees, said.
In a statement, the state’s lottery director said: “We are very grateful that John has given his time and skills to help the people dealing with the challenges brought on by Sandy and that New Jersey is giving a memorable thank you back to him.”
The jackpot, after taxes, comes to about $70,000, which Turner hopes to invest in his business, give to his church and donate to a family that is in need.
“He deserves it. He’s a good-hearted man. I couldn’t think of anybody better to win it than John,” Rivera said.
Turner, who was born in New Jersey, said his thoughts are still with those struggling after Sandy.
“It’s a saddening situation. It’s really, really sad. So we hope they get back to normal as quickly as possible,” Turner said.
Turner said he will be back to the Tri-State Area next week to once again help in the recovery effort.