Brothers' deaths in flood touch nation
It was like a scene from a horror film: a young mother stranded in a powerful storm, forced to abandon her car with two young children as floodwater threatened to drown them.
For Glenda Moore, married to Donegal-born Damien Moore, an employee at the New York City Sanitation Department, the tragedy of losing her sons to Superstorm Sandy’s waters is all too real.
According to reports, Ms Moore, a nurse, lost her grip of two-year-old Brandon and four-year-old Connor to powerful winds and rising waves. The youngsters’ bodies were recovered by the New York Police Department Scuba Unit from a marsh on Thursday.
Police commissioner Raymond Kelly, who made a surprise visit to survey Staten Island storm wreckage yesterday, said their deaths compounded “all the tragic aspects of this horrific event”.
“Cops were in there hip deep trying to get them,” a witness said.
“In the whirlwind of grief and sadness, this is a tragedy no matter what way you look at it, but it hits home a little bit harder knowing that the youngsters were part of our community,” Paul Finnegan, director of the New York Irish Center told The Irish Times.
“I haven’t yet heard of any organised effort for the Moores, but I’m sure the community will gather very quickly to help.”
Mr Finnegan said the network of Irish-American organisations citywide were doing all they could to help grief-stricken people in need.
Yesterday morning most of Manhattan returned to normalcy, but Staten Islanders say events like the Moore tragedy mean it’s a far cry from “forgive and forget” in their neighbourhood.
“We’re not letting it die out now that the city is going back to normal. We’re kind of a forgotten borough – but it’s pretty obvious by now that we’ve all come together to help each other out,” said Dawn Daniels, an Irish dance teacher whose family comes from Cork.
Ms Daniels lives close to the Staten Island ferry across from Manhattan, four miles from the Moores’ neighbourhood in the Great Kills section of Staten Island. Their area was not an evacuation zone.
“I first found out about it from a Facebook post by a friend in the community who has a two-year-old boy and said he was so haunted by what happened,” said Ms Daniels, adding that it deeply affected her because she also has a four-year-old son. Yesterday friends and neighbours began posting pictures of the little boys online.
A local fundraising page was created by David Park and posted online, dedicated to “Glenda and her family to purchase two plots for her babies and to give them respect and funeral they deserve.” Mr Park urged people to spread the message on Facebook and “get the word out”.
In the community, stories continue to circulate about the circumstances of the boys’ death, with some reports incriminating a neighbour Ms Moore had first called upon in search of help the morning after the storm.
Ms Moore’s cousin described the ordeal to the New York Daily News, saying she couldn’t believe how neighbours reacted to her calls for help: “The first person she knocked on, she begged them and said: ‘Please call 911’ and they told her ‘I don’t know you’ and closed the door.”
The owner of the home in question, identified by CNN only as Alan, said he saw a man at the door, that this man threw a flower pot at his door, and that afterwards “I had to stay there all night . . . He didn’t ask to come in, he asked me to come out and help him.”
Ms Daniels said: “the different stories just don’t add up. Initially, there was such a bad reaction and people saying it was a criminal thing, what the man had done.”
Confusion and an outpouring of grief isn’t limited to Staten Island, especially among Irish-Americans. People such as Niall O’Leary, former president of the Irish Business Organisation of New York called for community solidarity and prayers for the family: “Hopefully in time, the family will heal from this calamitous event.”