Aisling Irish Center volunteers in disbelief at Hurricane Sandy destruction
Irish Community from Yonkers continues to try to help in badly affected areas of Queens
The Irish Aisling Center on McLean Avenue in Yonkers goes above and beyond to provide help and support to locals and visitors of the Irish community.
It was no surprise, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, that the people of the Aisling Center were quick to jump to the needs of the victims of the devastation.
In the days following the storm, the center organized drop-off and pick up points for goods, such as food, water, clothes, blankets and cleaning supplies. The support they received from the community was overwhelming.
Due to the amount of goods that were donated, the build up of bags and boxes made it hard to even get in the door of the center. Nobody was complaining.
Help was provided in all kinds of ways. As well as donations, the Aisling Center organized for people willing to volunteer to make the trip to some of the worst hit areas by the storm, including Rockaway and Breezy Point, Queens.
Trips were arranged from last Tuesday through until Saturday.
On Friday morning, a group of 12 volunteers traveled to Rockaway beach in Queens, where Sandy destroyed hundreds of houses, leaving thousands homeless and without power.
The 12 apostles, aged between 21 and 60, were made up of locals as well as some Cavan, Mayo, Dublin, Leitrim, Cork, Donegal and Sligo natives, who had taken time out of their busy New York lives to help others. Peter Mc Kenna, a holiday maker from Tyrone, also volunteered his time.
An arranged mini-bus provided the transportation, while others drove their own car to the destination an hour and a half away.
Seeing the destruction of the neighborhoods in reality was a far cry from pictures and the news.
The bus was filled with sighs and words of disbelief and shock when it struggled to pass through streets filled with water and sand.
The volunteer group gathered at a building where the ring leader, Eunan Doherty, husband of Aisling Center’s Orla Kelleher, gave instruction for the day’s tasks.
A storage room in the 12 story building provided large amounts of hot food, where the group began the day by filling containers of food and then packaged the food into bags containing fruit and water.
The crew were then divided into two groups where they each went into different buildings to distribute the goods.
The 12 story buildings were freezing cold and pitched dark. The groups of six proceeded to troop up the 12 flights of stairs to begin at the top floor, knocking on every individual door of the homes of people, in order to see whether they needed food, water or medical attention.
On average, an answer was received from one door per floor. People had either evacuated their homes or were afraid to answer their door due to the amount of looters in the area.
The Aisling Center had insisted volunteers wear warm clothing and bring flash lights. Both were essential for this task.
Of the people who answered their doors, some amazing people in need warmed the hearts of the volunteers, and displayed their appreciation so affectionately. The words of the day were "Thank you," which was heard over and over again throughout the day, in various accents.
- Young Irish woman turned in to U.S. authorities
- Irishman John Downey arrested for 1982 IRA...
- Michael Flatley, star of Lord of the Dance...
- Nigerian migrants send $653 million a year...
- One in seven people on social welfare in...
- The top ten things I dislike about Irish...
- Do the Irish speak a foreign language?
- Top bishops clash over excommunication of...
- 'I expect terror attacks during G8 summit'...
- U2’s Bono spills on American politicians...