Ballinalee native, Liz Kenny will be presented with a humanitarian award in New York next Saturday night.
The businesswoman who has been residing in the USA for the past 20 years will be presented with the Willie Joe Cunningham Humanitarian Award by the Donegal Association in New York on Saturday, March 8 next at a special function in Auntons, Queen’s Village, for her tireless work over the past three months with families displaced by Hurricane Sandy.
Speaking to the Leader last week, Ms Kenny who is the daughter of Patsy and the late Josie Kenny (Whitehall) said that while she was “deeply honoured” to receive the award, she remained focused on the hundreds of Irish people – including Norah Egan from Kenagh – who lost their homes and all their personal belongings during the storm. Over 100 people also died in an event that is now being described as one of the worst natural disasters in American history.
Ms Kenny, along with numerous other people in her community have been rallying around, providing hot food, blankets and nappies for small babies, as families endeavour to pick up the pieces of their broken lives in The Rockways, where Hurricane Sandy’s presence was worst felt by residents.
“People lost their homes in The Rockways when Hurricane Sandy hit; many are homeless while others have sought refuge with family and friends,” said Ms Kenny adding that shops, pharmacies and garages were also brought to the ground – leaving many people without basic supplies.
“Many people now face difficulties with insurance companies who are determined not to pay out because they claim the storm was an Act of God – so many people are having a real hard time of it at the moment. The insurance companies won’t release funds and there is no funding to help out either.”
Ms Kenny also said that she became overwhelmed with the level of support by people in neighbouring communites to those in The Rockways and pointed to the great sense of community spirit that was prevalent, despite all the saddness.
“The Armstrongs and the Rathigans have been down here to help as well and the community spirit has been amazing,” she added. “We cook warm food and collect blankets and clothes – people can then collect them from the community centre. So many facilites were destroyed in the storm – so getting nappies for babies can even be difficult for some families. We try to make sure that we have plenty of supplies at the centre; the support from local businesses has also been amazing.
“The focus now is on the people of The Rockways and finding a way to rebuild their homes,” Ms Kenny concluded.