Man Who Volunteered After Sandy Hits Lottery

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CHICAGO HEIGHTS, IL (CNN) — While most people are frustrated by the problems created by Superstorm Sandy, a Chicago-area man hit the jackpot because of the storm.

John Turner is back home in the south suburbs, but he’ll never forget what he saw on the east coast.

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

Turner, 38, 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’d lost everything.

“Some people didn’t have insurance coverage,” he said. “Some people never would have expected this. It’s one of those 100 years deals.”

It was last Sunday, after a hard day of clean-up, that Turner bought a New Jersey lottery scratch-off ticket. With the flick of the wrist, he became $100,000 richer.

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

“He couldn’t believe it,” said one of Turner’s employees, Joshua Rivera. “He wanted a lot of confirmation from us, and just called a lot of family and told everybody the good news.”

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, came to about $70,000, which Turner hopes to invest in his business, give to his church and: “A portion of it, we’re going to donate it to someone or some family that’s in need,” said Turner.

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

Turner, who was born in New Jersey, said his thoughts are still with those struggling after Sandy.

“It’s a saddening situation,” he said. “It’s really, really sad. So we hope they get back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Even after winning, Turner stayed in New Jersey to finish his work.

He’s thinking of returning.

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