This site includes the postings from the Irish Aires email list. This includes a listing of Irish/Celtic events in the Houston area and other information that the Irish Aires radio program posts.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Irish & Katrina

News about Ireland & the Irish (Thanks to all who have volunteered to help with the assistance to any Irish victims of Katrina. As far as I know, there are no Irish in Houston who need our assistance. My understanding is that those who were transported to Dallas have temporary places to stay. If I become aware of any changes in their status, I will let you know. Below is some information that I thought would be of interest. jay) Stories include: News O'Flaherty's Irish Channel & Friends Irish Echo: Katrina's Wrath Pounds Gulf Coast Ireland Online: Efforts To Contact Missing Irish Continue Ireland Online: Concern For Irish Caught In Hurricane Belfast Telegraph: Ulster Soccer Girls In Katrina Horror ****************************************** News O'Flaherty's Irish Channel & Friends Here's an update on Danny O'Flaherty and O'Flaherty's Irish Channel Centre & Pub in the French Quarter of New Orleans Danny and his family (Susan & Liam) are out of New Orleans and safe. Patrick O'Flaherty was visiting New Orleans just before the storm hit and he is now back in DC. Andrea (Patrick's wife) is also in DC. Betsy, while losing her musical instruments to make room for her dogs, is safe and staying in Pennsylvania with her brother. (I do not know the status of Justin Murphy or Beth Patterson.) Based on the path the hurricane took, Danny is sure that his house is gone but he doesn't know how extensively O'Flaherty's Pub has been damaged. As you've probably seen on the news, water is rising in the French Quarter and with the building being more than a hundred years old, it's hard to be optimistic about having the Pub back in business anytime soon. As you can imagine, he's devastated as are so many other people that are in the areas hit by the hurricane. To add to the uncertainty and frustration is the realization that he can't do anything yet . . . he can't move ahead until he can get back into New Orleans to assess the damage and what it will mean for him and for his family. Because I've already received so many calls and emails asking what people can do to help Danny, Dave and I are sending this brief update to let you know that he's physically ok and also to let you know how you can help if you would like to do so. Our suggestions: · Keep Danny, his family, and all his friends and supporters in the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama areas in your prayers · If you would like to send an email to him, you can send it to · If you would like to make a donation to help, please send a check made out to Danny O'Flaherty and addressed to #300, 9732 State Route 445, Sparks, NV 89436 or call us (775-425-6708) with a credit card number and we'll process the donation for him · If there's a concert hall, large church hall, or large Irish Pub in your area which might like to sponsor "An Evening of Traditional Irish Music" or if there are K1-12 schools in your area which might like to have Danny present his "Traditional Celtic Music for Kids" program, please let us know. It is incomprehensible how many people are hurting from this disastrous hurricane. I know Danny wants to thank you for thinking of him during this extremely difficult time. Thanks for your consideration . . . Laurie and Dave O'Flaherty Tours ****************************************** Katrina's Wrath Pounds Gulf Coast Irish rally in cane's wake By Ray O'Hanlon and Susan Falvella-Garraty The Irish community in New Orleans and along the Gulf coast is counting the cost of Hurricane Katrina's devastating strike, but Irish Americans around the U.S. will be coming to their aid. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is to establish an emergency fund, proceeds of which will be made available for general relief, or specific aid to AOH members and their families in the worst affected areas. "New Orleans is a major location for us. We have a large division in the city and two more outside. There are hundreds of members in the area," said AOH National President Ned McGinley. The French Quarter and Irish Channel area of downtown New Orleans has a significant Irish business presence, mainly restaurants and bars. One bar owner, Jim Monaghan, described a scene of utter devastation when contacted by the Echo shortly after Katrina blew through. Monaghan said that he felt very lucky. The owner of the pub Molly's at the Market said that Hurricane Katrina - responsible for a death toll in the hundreds and possibly thousands - had caused complete devastation for many in and around the city. But, he added, his and many of the other bars and restaurants in the French Quarter have been spared from the worst flooding and destruction. In a telephone interview from a second story office above the pub, Monaghan said it would be days, or perhaps weeks, before a true accounting of how many people were killed and how many billions of dollars would be needed to repair homes and businesses. "There is just stunned silence on the streets and the only word that really describes it is devastation," said Monaghan. He and his wife Alana and their 26-year-old daughter, Tierney, took to the office above the bar to avoid the water below. "There's some flooding here, but not like in other areas of the city," Monaghan said. His relatively sanguine assessment would be overtaken within hours as flood waters rose in the city as a result of breaks in the levee system. Monaghan's father, also named Jim, was from Sligo and started the bar that is known for attracting the Big Easy's politicians and journalists. It is located around the corner from the French Market. According to Monaghan, the French Quarter has a slightly higher geographic elevation that has helped its historic buildings survive other devastating hurricanes such as Camille and Betsy that battered the city in the 1960s. "The French Quarter is the main tourist draw and they've put in the best pump system to keep it going and that's why our 200-year-old building is here," he said. With high water and search and rescue operations by the U.S. military and disaster teams spread out from New Orleans into Louisiana and both neighboring Mississippi and Alabama, Monaghan said there was not much that could be done on the ground right now. He did not expect that he, or many of the millions of residents in the flooded areas, would have electricity for days or even weeks. But Monaghan is not going to simply wait for relief. He plans on dishing up some himself "We've made it through after being in the center of a hurricane, so now it's time to take care of our neighbors," he said. This was not the moment to take advantage of customers who may not be able to prepare their own meals, or obtain fresh food. "So far, a lot of our food in the freezer is still frozen, but as it thaws we'll cook it in the upstairs kitchen and then we'll give it away," Monaghan said. Giving it away was also on the mind of Ned McGinley. From his home in Pennsylvania, McGinley spent the hours after Katrina's strike against New Orleans checking on the safety of members, most especially past AOH national director Judge Jim McKay, who lives with his family in New Orleans. McGinley said that the McKay family had moved to a more northerly location in Louisiana and were likely safe but that their home in the city was close to where there had been breaks in the city's levee system. "They are safe but their home is probably inundated," McGinley said. He added that by this weekend the Hibernian national board would be putting together an aid plan and would begin working to assess the needs of members in the stricken areas. "We raised a lot of money for the tsunami victims, but this is personal," McGinley said. "There's so much Irish history in New Orleans. We're having our national convention there in 2008," he said. Meanwhile, the Irish Embassy in Washington and the consulate in Chicago, which has primary diplomatic responsibility for New Orleans, are on standby in case any Irish nationals in the affected areas need assistance. No calls had been received at the Chicago consulate by presstime. "But we are aware of a small number of Irish citizens in the affected areas," said Consul General Charles Sheehan. Sheehan said that the consulate was attempting to contact a handful of people, slightly under a dozen. They were moistly religious or J1 students, he said. "We are heavily dependent on people back in Ireland letting us know that there are individuals they want to contact," Sheehan said. Sheehan said he was acutely aware that there was a great many people in New Orleans and along the Gulf coast who were of Irish descent. The coastal area, he said, was historically one of the most Irish parts of the South. New Orleans is, indeed, one of the most Irish in the United States. Census returns in 1850 revealed that one in five of the city's population had been born in Ireland and during the 19th century New Orleans maintained its standing as the second largest port of entry for Irish immigrants after New York. The "Irish Channel" in the city's "second municipality" was where many of the new arrivals initially concentrated and was the location for the construction of St. Patrick's Church on Camp Street. The church dates to 1833 and is a national historical landmark. ****************************************** Efforts To Contact Missing Irish In New Orleans Continue 03/09/2005 - 10:56:45 An unconfirmed number of Irish people are still missing in New Orleans. The Department of Foreign Affairs had been concerned about ten individuals who could not be contacted after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Louisiana city. A spokesperson today said "one or two" are still unaccounted for. Communications in the area have completely broken down since the hurricane struck five days ago and contacting the region has been proven difficult. Aid has finally arrived in New Orleans. Military convoys have brought food, water and medicine to thousands of survivors who are still trapped there. Surrounding hospitals are swamped with patients as they are lifted from the stricken regions. One local senator is estimating the death-toll could rise to 10,000. ****************************************** Concern For Irish Caught In Hurricane Disaster Zone 02/09/2005 - 15:25:32 There are worries over the location of some Irish citizens caught up in the disaster stricken US city New Orleans, a Government minister said today. Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern admitted there was concern over the locations of some Irish people. "We are hopeful that all of our people will be accounted for, we have some worries about one or two which is continuing," Mr Ahern said, amid reports law and order had completely broken down in the city. "By and large we have had some contact with our people and what we have tried to do is reassure the parents at home and to try and get our people to assist them out there. "But the communications are very bad." The Foreign Affairs Department has been contacted by around 40 families seeking information about relatives travelling in the area and officials are still working to establish the locations of around 10 Irish citizens. Four days after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in the region, there are thousands of people desperate to get out of the swamped city. There have been reports of rapes, beatings and car- jackings. Evacuation attempts were disrupted by gunfire and armed looters are loose on the streets. Jim Lally, whose son Conor was caught up in the chaotic attempts to evacuate New Orleans, said he had been holed up with thousands of others in horrendous conditions in the city's Superdome theatre. "There have seen sights which were indescribable to be honest," Mr Lally said. He added: "There have been rapes, there has been gang warfare in the Superdome because they have all the different street gangs in there. "It is full of people off the street, people of the night, homeless people and alcoholics so on like that, drug addicts who are not getting their drugs and they are not getting their alcohol. You can only just think of what they could be getting up to you know." Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco has announced the arrival of 300 soldiers who recently returned from Iraq and warned that they would "shoot and kill". Mr Ahern said the Foreign Affairs Department has been in contact with embassy officials in the US on an hourly basis since the disaster struck. "Three children of neighbours of mine were actually in the Superdome from the minute it happened and they have only just got out of it in recent times but thankfully, they are now accounted for even though they were in very bad circumstances in the Superdome," Mr Ahern told RTE Radio. "They got a text out to the father of one of the children the night before last just basically saying they were ok but the situation in the Superdome was deplorable." Mr Lally said his son and friends were evacuated to a hotel from the Superdome by the army last night along with other international people. The concerned father said: "There was about 50 to 60 people taken to this hotel. Not the sort of hotel that you and I would probably want to book in to but never-the-less better than the Superdome." The 20-year-old Queen's University student was on a holiday in New Orleans with friends after spending the summer working on a J1 visa in Myrtle Beach in the US. Mr Lally said his son was hoping to be taken by bus to either Baton Rouge or Houston, where Irish consulate staff and Irish organisations were waiting to help them. After two phone calls from his son, Mr Lally said there was a certain amount of relief. He added: "We won't be relieved until we can actually physically see him I suppose but there is a certain amount of relief." "We have got tremendous help I have to say from the Dept of Foreign Affairs," Mr Lally said. Mr Ahern said the Irish consulate in the US had set up an office in Houston to aid those evacuated in the region. ****************************************** Hurricane Katrina: Ulster Soccer Girls In Katrina Horror By Linda McKee 03 September 2005 FIVE top female soccer players from Northern Ireland fled to safety from Hurricane Katrina after they were trapped for days without electricity in the United States. All five of the female players attend the University of Southern Mississippi and form the backbone of the establishment's soccer team. As Hurricane Katrina sped up the Gulf of Mexico towards the southern US coast, the players prepared for the worst by stocking up on food and water in Hattiesburg where they live, which is around 50 miles from battered New Orleans. But after the storm struck a huge area of the Gulf coast and inland, supplies and electricity became scarce and on Tuesday head coach Gail Macklin, from Glengormley, gathered her crew and ferried them out of the danger zone, heading north-west towards Jackson, Mississippi. Gareth Turner, father of Kimberley Turner from Ballyhackamore, said he spoke to his daughter on Sunday just before she headed out to get food and water. She took shelter in a friend's apartment in the town of Hattiesburg on the day the hurricane hit. He said: "She said she was petrified. They went through one of the hurricanes last year but it was not as bad as this one." "She said she never wants to go through that again, the wind and the rain and things falling. It's all trees around her, the power cables, all the wind and noise. The lights went out, the power went off, so that scared her -- being so far from her family too. Luckily her apartment wasn't damaged." The players were moved out of the area after several days of struggling to cope with temperatures of 90 degrees outside and shortages of food, water and power, Mr Turner said. "They just couldn't bear the heat. There was no fresh water and no food - it was pretty rough for a couple of days." Mr Turner said the family had no news of Kimberley until Wednesday midnight because little information was coming out of the area. "We just never left the TV or the phone for two or three days. We knew they got badly hit and there was not a word about them, which was more frustrating," Mr Turner said. "It's just now starting to hit us how serious it was," Mr Turner added. The family were due to visit Kimberley next week, but have postponed their plans.
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