In Hurricane Sandy’s Wake Jewish Communities Try to Return to Normal
The storm that swept through the Northeast United States Monday and Tuesday has left many in the Jewish community devastated.
Atlantic and Cape May Counties were hit exceptionally hard. They have been sealed off to prevent the public from coming in or out. Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport, of the Chabad house in Ventnor, was able to sneak back into the island community with an emergency crew, and paints a grim picture. “The town is deserted, there’s almost nobody here. The people who are, are pretty much indoors at this time. You just see cars on people’s lawns—my home’s basement was flooded.”
He’s doing what he can to help in recovery efforts. “There’s a group of volunteers and we’re going to make some soup and distribute it to the people here who are stranded. The community is sort of frozen, people don’t know what to do. People don’t want to leave their homes because once they do they can’t get back in, but at the same time supplies are dwindling.”
One member of his synagogue reported that her neighbor had to evacuate their house from a second floor window via kayak.
Ron Mangel, a member of Rabbi Rappaport’s synagogue who has lived in Margate, New Jersey for 26 years says he’s never experienced anything like it. “I’m at a friends house in Voorhees (a New Jersey town inland) and I feel very helpless,” he said.
In New York some communities are getting back on track, while others are still reeling. Rabbi Avrom Chakoff of Dumbo’s Chabad House reported that their nursery school reopened today. “It was nice, very exciting and very helpful for the community,” he said continuing, “everyone is being very supportive, they’re checking on each other here.”
William Rapfogel, CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty says that he hasn’t experienced anything like what he has in the aftermath of Sandy since 9/11. “There’s lots of concern about people who have been isolated, people who are disabled. We’re serving over 4,000 elderly people. We have people going door-to-door checking up on them.”
The organization has sent out food trucks and has other volunteers helping. “We’re trying to help as many neighborhoods as possible, but let’s face it: South Brooklyn—Brighton, Manhattan Beach—they were very hard hit. The Lower East Side is pretty much out of commission. No electricity, no water, no nothing. People there feel as if they’re in the Stone Age.”
57 deaths have thus far been attributed to Sandy. As of early Wednesday there were reports of roughly 6.5 million homes and businesses being without power, including 4 million in New York and New Jersey.
IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm, estimated the cost of damage caused by the storm to be $60 Billion.