Saturday 24 February 2018

How the Irish abroad weathered the weather

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

IRISH people living in New York and surrounding states have spoken of their terror as Superstorm Sandy felled trees, flooded streets and downed powerlines.

Ciaran Staunton, who is originally from Co Mayo, and has been living in the US for the past 30 years, said he had come through the worst of the storm unscathed.

"It's the worst I've seen in my time in the States. . . The winds were tough. You could see the fight that was on between the winds and the trees last night."

Mr Staunton, who owns O'Neill's restaurant in Manhattan as well as Molly Blooms in Queens, told how he, his wife Orlaith and their daughter Kathleen "bunkered down" in their home in Sunnyside and watched news bulletins on television as the storm raged outside.

"This is a really old neighbourhood with lots of trees and on every street around here, there's trees down. We have a few branches down around the house but that's all. . . Thank God we have come out the other end without any major damage".

Mr Staunton said he planned to re-open both his restaurants before lunchtime yesterday.

The historic Fraunces Tavern in New York -- which is owned by Irish company The Porterhouse Bar Group -- is sitting under 15ft of water.

The basement of the building is completely submerged and more than five feet of water covers the ground floor.

The landmark building, which was home to the first President of the United States of America, George Washington, is the oldest in Manhattan.

Elaine Hogan, originally from Tullow, Co Carlow, and now living in Fairfield, Connecticut, is without electricity and said it could be days before power is restored.

"It was definitely scary, you could feel the house shaking. The windows and doors were rattling like crazy," she said.

Emergency services yesterday urged the public to remain indoors and Ms Hogan and her 11-year-old daughter Kate have not yet been able to leave their home to survey the damage in their area.

Irish Independent

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