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October 28, 2012 5:38 pm

As Hurricane Sandy Nears Jewish Communities Prep for Worst

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Photo: Weather.com

Hurricane Sandy.

With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the Northeastern United States, Jewish communities in the storm’s path are making every effort to ensure their safety.

In New Jersey a state of emergency was declared by Governor Chris Christie on Friday. Many of the low-lying barrier Islands are under a mandatory evacuation, including those of Atlantic and Cape May County.

Rabbi Avrohom Rappaport, director of the Chabad house serving that area, says they are in touch with members of the community. “We’re calling our list, especially the older people, and making sure they have a place to go. We’ve secured the shul, and we’ll get in touch afterwards with those people who we know will need assistance. We’ll get some volunteers together and assess the damage.”

He continued: “We’ve had a lot of scares and nothing really happened and then we’ve had storms that were really bad, and this could possibly top those. So we don’t know. It could be nothing or the bay and the ocean could meet, so we can’t take chances; we’re evacuating.”

He will be evacuating with his family to the Chabad house in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. “I’ve gotten calls from the four closest Shluchim and they offered to take in my family and anyone else that needs a place to go. There’s really been a sense of community and concern from our extended family you might say—the Shluchim.”

Jewish communities in Brooklyn aren’t facing quite the threat of those along New Jersey’s coast, but they’re taking precautions as well, though according to Rabbi Avrohom Winner of the Manhattan Beach Chabad house some are taking the threat more seriously than others. “Brighton Beach is in Zone A, which is being evacuated, but those on higher ground there are going to brave it. Manhattan Beach is on lower ground so they are evacuating.”

Overall a sense of calm has remained. “It’s Brooklyn. Most people are figuring it out. There’s a lot of accessibility here—things are easy to get to. It’s a larger community so unlike some of the smaller communities they don’t need as much leadership, “ he says.

Reports as to the severity of Sandy have been mixed, but the eye is supposed to make landfall in New Jersey on Monday, working its way north up the coast with heavy wind and rain expected.

The storm has already left destruction in its wake. Over the weekend it claimed 41 lives in the Caribbean, including 11 deaths in Cuba.

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