(Look out for the Listowel connection)
A very uplifting story in the aftermath of Sandy
BELLE HARBOR, NY (PIX11)—
When Donal O'Sullivan, a successful, Irish-born contractor living in northeastern Queens, heard about the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways, he felt compelled to go see it for himself.
What he found in the southernmost section of the borough, on the Saturday after the October 29th storm, stunned him. "It looked like millions of tons of sand had been dumped in the streets," O'Sullivan said. So the businessman from County Kerry mobilized about 150 volunteers, by the next morning, to start digging out residents....either with shovels and buckets.....or with Bobcats donated from his business, Navillus Contracting.
O'Sullivan specializes in commercial construction and provided the concrete for the September 11th Memorial in lower Manhattan. But he saw the need in the Rockaways and wanted to respond. O'Sullivan told PIX 11 that fifty families had signed up for assistance that first Sunday morning, and by nightfall, one hundred families had asked for help. Since November 4th, the volunteers he's provided from his company have dug out some 300 families.
A father of six, O'Sullivan's daughters, Katie and Caroline, have been taking part in the relief effort. PIX 11 and the Morning News was at one home on Beach 126th Street Wednesday morning, as O'Sullivan's crew dug out the basement of homeowner, Liz Gatto, where the sand was piled four feet high. Gatto held her one year old daughter, Ella, in her arms--as she watched the activity from the dilapidated boardwalk across the street, where a car was buried in the sand. Gatto said she's lived in the Rockaways for 34 years of her life, and she never got a drop of water in her house, not even after Hurricane Irene in the summer of 2011. This time, the ocean came crashing over the top of her home, which she had evacuated. The electrical system will have to be replaced, before she moves back in, but she's grateful her family is safe.
The Rockaways served as a summer resort dating back to the 1830's, but with the advent of inexpensive airline travel in the 1960's, tourism there waned. Many people, though, started living there year-round.
In Far Rockaway, after World War Two, public housing was built, and many residents there have suffered badly, after the power and heat outages caused by the hurricane.
More help on way
Irish community ‘Day of Action’ is organized for Hurricane Sandy victims
On November 24th Irish will descend in large numbers to help in Rockaway
By JAMES O'SHEA, IrishCentral.com
A major Irish “Day of Action” to help the residents of Rockaway who have been shattered by Hurricane Sandy has been decided upon by the Irish community in conjunction with the Irish government.
The day will take place on November 24th the Saturday after Thanksgiving and up to 1,000 Irish are expected to take part from all over the New York area. Designated work areas will be arranged in Rockaway.
The day is being coordinated by the Irish Consulate in New York and buses will transport the volunteers from the main Irish neighborhoods to the Rockaway peninsula. The buses will be available at the Irish Immigration centers in Queens, Bronx and likely Manhattan as well as some other upstate locations. The Rockaway area has been devastated by the hurricane.
Skilled trades people, especially New York certified electricians are desperately needed but volunteers of all backgrounds are welcome.
Irish Consul General Noel Kilkenny paid tribute to the many efforts by Irish organizations to help those in Rockaway and elsewhere who have been devastated by the hurricane.
Kilkenny said when he visited Rockaway it was apparent that people on the ground were the main need of those who have been left in dire straits.
“We feel the Irish with their vast array of skills and commitment to help those in need should make an extra special effort” he said. Rockaway leaders agreed that with its multi-ethnic mix and large Irish population it was the obvious place to organize.
In consultation with community leaders the Consulate decided to embark on the day of action. A press release using the Irish term “Meitheal” which means a group of neighbors coming together to help someone, has been sent out.
“You are invited to become an Irish Meitheal Volunteer. All able-bodied men and women are asked to come together and travel to Rockaway to help the stricken neighborhood.
Full details (bus departures, sign-up sheets, etc.) to follow early next week.
Christmas parking in Listowel
Thanks to Jimmy Moloney for keeping us in the loop.
Did you get to see John B. after Ten?