Chicago-area man cleaning up after Sandy wins NJ lottery

November 9, 2012 (CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill.)

John Turner is back home in south suburban Chicago Heights, but he'll never forget what he saw on the East Coast.

"Whole half of houses gone. We saw houses moved down the streets, vehicles turned over," said Turner.

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," said Turner.

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.

"Just shock, like this is not happening. Like this is not real," said Turner.

"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," said Joshua Rivera, employee.

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 he hopes to invest in his business, give to his church, and more.

"A portion of it, we're going to donate it to someone or some family that's in need," said Turner.

"He deserves it. He's a good-hearted man. I couldn't think of anybody better to win it than John," said Rivera.

Turner, who was born in New Jersey, says 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," he said.

Even after winning, Turner stayed in New Jersey to finish his work. He's thinking of returning.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.