When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, it had been about six years since Erin Corcoran Daly lived in Breezy Point, Queens, but she didn’t hesitate to gather supplies and drive north to help her former community handle the disaster.
Now, Daly is once again back in New York, having evacuated her Hernando County, Florida, home ahead of Hurricane Irma, and she’s collecting supplies again – this time from the New Yorkers who want to give back to the Floridians who helped them.
“When Hurricane Sandy happened and we came up to New York, a lot of the supplies came from people in Hernando County,” Daly said. “They came up with hundreds of gallons of gasoline when everyone had no gas up here.”
Daly, a 47-year-old sex crimes prosecutor, and her other first-responder friends used those supplies to launch Operation Breezy Gut and Pump, which helped gut about 600 Breezy Point homes that had been flooded by Sandy.
Knowing how ready the New York community would be to give back, Daly figured she could do something similar when she heard that a 10-foot storm surge was heading to Hernando Beach.
She was ready to lose everything, but luckily, that surge didn’t hit Hernando Beach. Still, there were power outages and other parts of Florida under duress. Daly continued to collect supplies and plans to drive back on Friday with a stockpile of gas cans, blowers, generators, garbage bags and more.
Many in Breezy Point also have houses on Marco Island, Florida, an island south of Naples that was devastated by Irma, Daly said. One of her friends, Ryan Moriarty, plans to pack up his trailer full of supplies and head to Florida, even collecting keys from New York neighbors so he can check on their houses on Marco Island.
“It all gets paid forward,” she said. “We help each other out.”
Daly has had plenty of emergency experience. She was a 9/11 first responder, and her father was a cop, so she said she was trained in emergency situations from a young age.
“You learn from your parents, you know, and mine were always there to help anybody who ever needed it,” she said. “We were taught that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
It’s not only those tied to law enforcement who were taught that, as evidenced by all the Breezy Point residents who are helping her now – even though she hasn’t lived there for years. That’s simply how the community is, Daly said.
“I’ve never left the Breezy Point community, that’s the truth,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been there and involved in Breezy Point even from a thousand miles away.”