Hurricane Sandy has united one Irish-American family in a way they never expected.
All 31 members of the Hickey family are now living under one roof in New Hyde Park Long Island, since the category one hurricane battered the east coast one month ago, the Daily News reports.
“We thought it would be a one night hurricane party,” says FDNY firefighter Will Hickey.
When Hickey took in all six of his siblings, who are born and bred Breezy Point residents, his Long Island home gained 25 additional occupants.
The big Irish American family have been living under the same roof since Superstorm Sandy destroyed six of the seven siblings’ homes in Breezy Point, Queens.
“As the days go on you become more reflective,” said Hickey, a firefighter with Ladder 120 in Brooklyn. “Money is only paper. Our family is focused on being thankful for what we have.”
Hickey said they have been overwhelmed by the kindness of people.
Read more: The American Ireland Fund to give $250,000 to Sandy victims
“There aren’t words to describe the goodness in people,” Hickey said. “It’s a rebuilding process. You go one day at a time.”
Hickey’s sister Mary Purpura, the youngest of the seven siblings, says their new living arrangements remind her of their childhood.
“We grew up like this. This is a normal Sunday for us,” the kindergarten teacher said.
“We take turns. We eat in shifts,” said Purpura, 27. “It’s nice knowing we’re all here to help each other.”
Grandmother Cathy Hickey, 66, admits she worries about her familys’ long term plans in the storm's aftermath.
“The uncertainty is what boggles my mind,” she said. “The kids are resilient but every once in a while they will say ‘I want to go home.’”
The retired legal clerk is concerned about her Breezy Point neighborhood where she raised seven children.
“We don’t know if Breezy will be Breezy again,” she lamented. “We didn’t know how good we had it — materially, and living near each other.”