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Irish hands on

If all things go as planned, members of the Irish American community will descend on the stricken Rockaways this Saturday as part of the post-Sandy Day of Action which has taken organizational shape over a number of days by virtue of a meeting and follow up conference call centered at the Irish Consulate in Manhattan.

As the first shocks from Sandy were replaced by a realization that the storm's effects were bigger and even more far ranging than many feared, the Irish/Irish American community in the worst affected areas and beyond did what it always does in times of crisis: it rallied, it organized, and it knuckled down.

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Many individuals and groups have already been working on relief and recovery operations, but this Saturday's effort comes with a kind of community imprimatur that delivers the message to the world that the Irish, with a long history of challenge and outright disaster to draw upon, do not forget what it is like to have a familiar world turned upside down.

Saturday's Day of Action is being held in the spirit of both an American Thanksgiving and the Meitheal - the Irish language word for when a community comes together to respond collectively to great need.

Real benefit will be derived from the work that will be carried out Saturday. More importantly, perhaps, those directly involved and those who support it in other ways will gain valuable first hand knowledge and insight with regard to the long process of recovery that lies ahead.

We know from past experience, not least from the devastation in New Orleans left by Hurricane Katrina, that recovery and rebuilding is a lengthy process. We are, right now, in the very earliest of days so much will remain to be done even after this Saturday's collective effort.

Fortunately, the organizational infrastructure exists - Habitat For Humanity immediately comes to mind - that will allow organizations and individuals to keep helping it time and resources allow.

The Meitheal, meanwhile, is an opportunity to give thanks for what we have, even as it is a means of helping restore to people something of what they have lost. Well done to all involved.