The two young sons of an Irishman who emigrated to the US were among the victims of superstorm Sandy.
Conor and Brendan Moore, aged four and two, were swept away in Staten Island last week as their mother Glenda tried to get the family to safety.
Her husband Damien, originally from Co Donegal, was working for the city council when it happened.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Fr Philip Daly, a priest in the Donegal Parish of Portnoo, said everyone was devastated by the tragedy, which he said was hard to accept.
He described how Mrs Moore made valiant efforts to save her boys, however, her pleas for help fell on deaf ears.
"I think that what added to the awfulness of the situation was the lack of support.
"There was no support forthcoming from some of the people in that area, when Glenda went to the doors looking for help, where they basically closed the doors in her face so this compounded the awfulness of the situation".
He said it was some comfort to the parents and grandparents of the two boys that their bodies had been recovered.
Fr Daly added: "That in itself was a great relief to Damien and Glenda and to the grandparents here in Portnoo that they now can grieve, that they can have a funeral and they can later on visit the grave, so that in itself was a blessing".
Housing crisis in New York City
Separately, a housing crisis is looming in New York City, as victims of the storm struggle without heat in near freezing conditions.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that 30,000 to 40,000 people in New York City were in need of shelter, including 20,000 in public housing.
Another storm is expected to hit the battered New England coast this week with strong winds and heavy rain.
Federal agencies are looking for flats and hotel rooms in a city with little vacant housing.
Most New York schools are due to reopen today, though some still lack power and others are being used as shelters.
As life slowly returns to normal for many, close to 2m people still have no power as cold weather sets in.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters face a frustrating journey into the city as public transportation remained spotty.
Service on many rail lines is reduced and the subway is running at about 80% of its normal service.
Concerns are also growing that voters displaced by Sandy will not get to polling stations on election day.
Scores of voting centres were rendered useless by the record surge of seawater in New York and New Jersey.
New Jersey has said it will allow people displaced by the storm to vote by email.
In New York City, some 143,000 voters will be reassigned to different polling sites.
Both states are normally easy wins for the Democrats.
Hurricane Sandy killed 69 people in the Caribbean before turning north and slamming into the US Eastern Seaboard last Monday with 130km/h winds and a huge storm surge.
The US death toll has risen to at least 113.