Many hands make less work - the Irish Day of Action shows camaraderie and spirit among the Irish
Tales of tragedy and blessings emerge from Hurricane Sandy nightmare on the Rockaways
‘More hands, less work’ was the motto of the day as 1,000 Irish people descended to Sandy-ravaged Rockaway beach to help people restore their homes and businesses last Saturday as part of the ‘Irish day of Action’ scheme.
‘The Irish have arrived!’, said one woman to her husband down the phone as Irish volunteer workers came into her home to assist in any way possible and the sheer volume of people surprised even the organisers as they scrambled to give all their eager workers something to do.
Orlagh Reilly, working in Human Resources in Manhattan, heard about the event via email last week and had to get on board.
‘I helped because I feel fortunate not to have been affected by the storm and I cannot sit around knowing there are some people struggling to rebuild their lives again so I have to help physically as I can’t afford to give money. It made me feel good in myself that I helped out and I had fun at the same time there was great camaraderie and team spirit while we worked hard’.
Pat Savage, whose ancestors hailed from Tralee in County Kerry, was stuck in Arizona during the storm and had to rely on news reports to gauge how bad the damage was to his Rockaway beach home.
‘I was in Arizona to buy a car and couldn’t fly back because of the storm. I was looking at the news and saw pictures of Times Square. There was no wind, no rain so I didn’t think it would be that bad’.
His daughter Monica Holland, was in Astoria with her husband at the time of the storm but boarded up the sidedoors at her parent’s house before the hurricane but her efforts were in vain.
‘Looking back we didn’t do too much to prepare for the storm but our neighbour prepared like a lunatic and still got flooded so I suppose there was no stopping it’.
When Monica eventually got to her parents house on Tuesday evening she was shocked by what she found as the basement and first floor were entirely flooded, and the family car was also destroyed.
‘There must have been over 8 feet of water at the height of the storm. The streets were covered in sand and rubble but you just go into crazy survival mode. I learned how to siphon gas very quickly and bartered for a generator so us and our neighbours could charge appliances. It was the shadiest purchase ever out of the back of a car but it had to be done’.
Her husband Donal Holland, born and raised in County Killkenny, stated that the community spirit in the neighbourhood has always been strong and didn’t disappoint in this latest disaster.
‘I am continuously amazed by how strong and together this community is. If somebody is sick, there is always benefit nights for them, people always help each other out no matter what the situation is’.
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