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Paddy Nee outside his home on Beach 123rd Street. Photo by: Handout

Fighting Irish spirit emerges as the Rockaways stay strong and united after Hurricane Sandy

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Paddy Nee outside his home on Beach 123rd Street. Photo by: Handout

“It’s ridiculous,” says Nee. “We were forgotten about. People are suffering but LIPA, where were they?”

Though the maligned power company may have forgotten where the Rockaways were, so many others have not.  Irish groups and businesses such as Liffey Van Lines and the Aisling Irish Community Center have led the volunteer charge over the Cross Bay Bridge and into the ravaged neighborhoods to provide food, supplies, manpower and comfort.

The Gibbons Home Irish pub in Maspeth, Queens had two large food stands open on Sunday, and a boombox blaring Irish music from the Wolfe Tones.  The Gibbons family is no stranger to tragedy – George Gibbons, founder of the pub, was killed by a wrong-way driver on a Long Island Expressway service road last year.

His sister, Bernadette, was quick to give credit to the many Irish businesses that donated food and supplies to the stands.  “We just were a drop-off point,” she said.

“People have been great.  Everyone wants to donate and help and do their part. That’s the Irish.”

Briege Griebel from Co. Tyrone was doling out homemade soup under the Gibbons tent.  She’s been in the U.S. for more than 40 years and has never seen anything like the horror inflicted by the hurricane.

“It’s shocking,” she says. “I’m going to keep volunteering and going to different places until there is no more need to do so.”

Gibbons agrees.  “That’s what we’ve got to do.  This is unreal. It’s not the Rockaways that I remember visiting while I was growing up.”

That’s certainly the case now, but after spending a few hours walking the streets alongRockaway Park Boulevard, with Irish flags flying high from so many homes, the Rockaways will rebuild. Of that there is no doubt.

Read more news on Hurricane Sandy here

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