A TRIP to the 1994 World Cup proved life changing for Caragh Lake man John D Foley and a year later he relocated to the US where he now works as an architect in New York's largest property management company.
With his company's portfolio stretching to The Rockaway's area which was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy, John has quickly become a key figure in the grass roots relief effort. His aunt is also a publican in the area - Carmel Sullivan (Clifford) from Glenbeigh and Caragh Lake, owner of The Kerry Hills Bar which was savaged by the storm. He reveals how the past three weeks have been life changing.
"The day after the storm was chaos, buildings had lost power and there was massive damage," he states. "I was in the office trying to organise major contractors to pump the salt water out of the buildings but I had to see for myself the damage caused to make sure they went to the right areas. It was absolute devastation and quickly became a humanitarian effort to deliver food.
"It was hard to describe - I was driving at two miles an hour with two guys with flashlights checking out for sinkholes and we would shine flashlights up to the buildings to let people know food was downstairs," he added.
John revealed how he took to Facebook in search of support and it was the Aisling Centre, led by Kilgarvan woman Orla Kelleher, who responded first with a truck loads of food and clothing.
"I was down there every day. People were giving out my cell number to volunteers because I was on the ground - so it was a huge grass roots movement," he stated.
And while he worked, he continued his search for his aunt.
"It was about five or six days before I finally found her as the pub hwas so badly hit she was elsewhere. It's been a huge effort trying to get the water pumped out," he added.
John has since set up a Facebook page - Kerry Hills Recovery Facebook Fund - to help his aunt get back on her feet.
"Prices are coming in and its not going to be easy - insurance says the hurricane didn't cause the damage, it was flooding and there's no flooding insurance. All help is greatly appreciated," he continued.