Bill Connolly has lived in the Far Rockaway area in New York for 68 years. He has served his community for many years, working as a firefighter. He’s also a handyman and a builder—he built a lot of his own house with his own two hands. Bill never expected that a storm would be his house’s undoing but because he lives close to the coast, he took the necessary precautions to ensure his home’s safety against potential natural disasters. So, when he built his home, he did his best to storm-proof his house, even making sure the foundation and the basement were built sturdy enough to survive a storm.

And then, on Oct. 28, 2012, Hurricane Sandy came along. The storm was so violent that it washed away the cement block barrier shielding Bill’s house. Much of the siding and deck collapsed.

“The water surged and flooded the entire area so quickly,” said Bill. He shared that the ocean tide cut power lines and carried infrastructure in its strong current. The water reached about eight feet high. “This is the worst storm I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Bill’s house and those of his neighbors suffered tremendously. But Bill is confident that, just as he built his home so many years ago, he will rebuild and so will his neighbors, and he is very thankful that Islamic Relief USA staff and volunteers came to help his community start that process.

Islamic Relief USA’s Disaster Assistance Response Team and volunteers mobilized quickly to provide emergency aid to Hurricane Sandy survivors throughout New Jersey and New York, and had been on hand to help Bill with clean-up efforts at his home.

“I’d like to thank you people for coming here and helping us out,” said the serviceman, adding, “We will remember it.”

You can help individuals like Bill by contributing to Islamic Relief USA’s United States Humanitarian or Disaster Assistance Response Team funds, and supporting IRUSA’s efforts to provide aid as quickly as possible when emergencies strike throughout the country.