Irish community comes out in force to help aid those affected by Hurricane Sandy
As residents in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut come to terms with one of the most devastating storms in history, members of the Irish community have come out in force to help those in need. Irish Voice Reporter MOLLY MULDOON, speaks to some volunteers about their efforts.
It was the plight of Ruari Daly’s customers that encouraged the Astoria bar owner to spring into action in the days following Hurricane Sandy.
“Anybody would do it,” says Daly, who helped deliver a variety of supplies to residents in the Rockaways and Breezy Point on Sunday afternoon.
Daly, originally from Derry, says many customers of his popular local bar had family in some of the most devastated areas.
What began as a conversation between the Irish immigrant and bartender Mayra Velasco lead to hundreds of the Astoria community coming out to help those most affected by the category 1 super storm.
“On Friday my wife and I went out to Costco and Restaurant Depot and bought some food, diapers, water, things like that,” Daly, who moved to the United States 11 years ago, told the Irish Voice.
Daly put the supplies on the stage of his bar and sent out an appeal to his friends on Facebook to do the same. Word spread online and within a few hours of the Facebook post, a stream of people began bringing donations to the bar just off Broadway.
“Strangers were coming in off the street and asking if there was anything they could do.”
It wasn’t long before the stage was nearly stacked to the ceiling with 60 boxes filled with everything from cleaning supplies and toiletries to canned goods.
With a serious gas shortage, the real mission was trying to find a vehicle to transport all the goods to the Rockaways and Breezy Point.
“I called U-Haul and Zipcar, to see if they could rent us some vans, but there was nothing available,” Daly said.
After seeing Daly’s plea on Facebook, Paul Burnes, owner of the Irish Rover bar in Astoria, came forward and offered the use of his flatbed truck.
In an inspiring video shot in Daly’s pub, volunteers can be seen forming an assembly line as they move the countless supplies onto the truck.
At 7am on Sunday morning, the entourage of one flatbed truck, three pick-ups and one car left Astoria, bound for Breezy Point and the Rockaways.
Despite following the news coverage all week, Daly described the scenes they met as unbelievable.
“There were mounds of sand at least 14 feet high,” he told the Irish Voice.
“All we saw was furniture and personal belongings on the street.”
“They had to throw everything out.”
The group offloaded their supplies at two different locations in Breezy Point and the Rockaways.
“As soon as the truck pulled up it was like a war zone,” Daly recalled.
“People were coming and taking whatever they needed,” Daly said. “They still had smiles on their faces.”
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