An Irish 'Point' of view - Irish Day of Action at Breezy Point, Queens
Volunteers out in force to help clean up Breezy Point after Hurricane Sandy
“I feel so sorry for these people,” says Woods, a native of Co. Tyrone and now local entrepreneur who owns Emmett’s Castle restaurant in Pearl River and Mahoney’s Irish Pub in Poughkeepsie.
“We don’t know how lucky we are that we escaped the worst of the storm. These people here really need our help.”
Everyone, it seems, is Irish in Breezy Point – even the Habitat for Humanity volunteers. Tom Naughton works with the Habitat branch in Westchester which has a maintained a daily presence. His mother was from Kilkenny, father from Galway and he was raised in England and Ireland until he was 10 years old.
Retired from a bank for seven years, Naughton has volunteered for Habitat ever since. He’s been to various disaster areas, including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and says that ensuring the safety of the volunteers is of the utmost importance.
“It’s always tragic,” says Naughton, while directing a group of volunteers from Goldman Sachs who traveled to Breezy Point for the day.
“But they will rebuild here. There’s no doubt about it.”
Habitat for Humanity Westchester director Jim Killoran agrees. “We will rebuild the Rockaways. We will rebuild it green, and we will rebuild it smart,” says Killoran, whose paternal grandparents emigrated from Ireland.
“You know, we celebrate all diversity around here. But really, Breezy Point is like another county in Ireland. And for sure, the spirit of the Irish is what’s going to get us through this.”
The Irish Tricolor flew on the beachfront, right under the Stars and Stripes, not far from where Killoran spoke. Breezy Point is indeed infused with Irish DNA, and the volunteers who donated their time on Saturday have every intention of ensuring it stays that way.
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