Mailbag: Far Rockaway Situation Something Out Of Movie…Except It’s Real

(Monday, November 5th, 2012)

I am 23 years old, and while I may have lost no financial assets in the hurricane, it is still easy to relay the message of the damage that has occurred to fellow Jews.

A few guys went back home to Far Rockaway, to help victims, for the first time since before the storm. The situation is something out of a movie, except it is real – and there seems to be no end.

In the few short hours we were helping, we witnessed parents literally crying for warm food, and a recently bar mitzvah boy sobbing as we took away his recently destroyed collection of brand new seforim. This is nearly a week after the storm!!

People have no cars as they were destroyed during the hurricane. The houses are flooded from basement to first floor destroying everything and leaving a toxic smell in its path. I was in many people’s homes where sand clogged the pipes and septic water was swept throughout their homes. Half the people are staying home because they are scared of looting, and the other half are leaving because they are scared of the type of people looting. People are freezing, hungry, in despair, and it seems no one in surrounding communities has a clue.

The only factor affecting communities are the long gas lines and ensuring their workers can be at work each day. I have lost no assets but it was very disappointing for me to hear a rabbi this week on Shabbos make no mention of any suffering occurring at this time.

It is very inspiring as there are a tremendous amount of organizations and individuals offering homes, food, and clothes, but it is not even close to the amount of help that should and needs to be done.

People have no idea how bad the situation is.

Shul doors left open just hoping someone will clean it out. A trailer truck of shaimos came from less than 30 homes. From what I hear towns such a s Seagate and Bell Harbor are much worse off. This is not New Orleans; this is right in our backyard!

This poorly written letter is solely meant to spark your interest just enough to research a little into the catastrophe that has occurred in the Jewish community. I’m not sure if it will take a YouTube music video from someone famous or just community leaders in surrounding neighborhoods to help make this message more real.

Ask around how you can help on a financial level and definitely with the cleaning efforts, from the little we saw it was heart breaking.

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM A PREVIOUS POST ON YWN:

HOW YOU CAN HELP THE HURRICANE VICTIMS

Many people are looking to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and many different organizations have been assisting them. The following is a list of some of organizations where you can donate and assist your brothers in need.

1) New York’s leading Jewish Chesed groups have agreed to create an emergency fund to support local victims of Hurricane Sandy. The Emergency Sandy Chesed Fund will be managed by Chevra Hatzalah with the support of the following organizations: Hatzalah groups, Shomrim, Misaskim, Chaveirim, Met Council, Yad Ephraim and neighborhood Jewish Community Councils. It was formed at a meeting called by Councilman David G. Greenfield. All proceeds of the Emergency Sandy Chesed Fund will go directly to victims and victim services. No donations will be used for administration or overhead.

The community is encouraged to donate generously via this website: www.EmergencyChesedFund.com.

2) There are countless families in the Five Towns, Far Rockaway, Bayswater and Long Islandthat are totally wiped out, having suffered crippling losses, losing homes, cars, clothing, everything. They are literally left with only the proverbial clothing on their backs and are in a shocking situation. Hundreds of others have been severely impacted.

To assist our community in this time of desperation, the Achiezer organization has begun a campaign, chaired by distinguished baalei batim to allow those of us who are fortunate enough not to be suffering from the after effects of the hurricane, a once-in-a-lifetime direct pikuach nefesh opportunity. The trustees listed below will oversee the funds raised in this campaign to insure that every penny goes directly into the hands of those who have lost so much due to the devastating hurricane. A special accounting of every dollar will be available at the end of this campaign. Any monetary assistance, big or small, will help to alleviate the overwhelming need of our friends, neighbors and brothers. You can donate by clicking HERE.

3) In the community of Sea Gate, the devastation is real, the damage is more than just physical.  Families have lost everything.  ”The only thing left is the shirt on my back”, is no longer a saying, it’s real.

A fund to assist the local community has been set up and is being administered by Harav Pinchos Meisels, the Dayan of Seagate. You can donate by visiting the website for the Sea Gate Hurricane Emergency Fund.

PLEASE EMAIL THIS STORY TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

20 Comments

  1. esmith92000 says:

    There are many of us with warm houses, beds, food, etc. For many of us the locals who were without power are just about moving out. We can host these families for months. It seems all these chesed organizations are proposing is money. Where can we call to offer home hospitality?

  2. amama says:

    where can furniture/appliances be donated? I have a large side by side fridge (stainless steel) that I can donate.

  3. shtieging says:

    Lets not forget the many frum families that live in Manhattan Beach that were wiped out as well. You can Help them and donate here http://theshtieble.org/5.html
    Tizku Limitzvos!

  4. Baal Boose says:

    JUST A THOUGHT;
    What about families adoptig families- albeit temporarily. A chance to catch ur breath, put things down, warm meal, fresh bed, and safe haven for the kids! A chance For the parents to focus on restarting!
    We just need a person or group to match up.

  5. mommymom says:

    regarding comment by esmith, thank you for your help contact Achiezer, they are matching families to houses.

  6. mufka says:

    call achiezer with whaterver you have – food , housing, clothing, manpower —- 516-791-4444 for far rockaway five towns area.

  7. bygirl31 says:

    Achiezer’s phones are down- their temporary # is 718-414-2456

  8. groisnaches says:

    The collective cost of rebuilding and repairing water damaged homes is astronomical. While listening to Joan Hamburg discuss this on her radio show, she brought up a good point. Why is the public responsible for rebuilding waterfront homes that over time get washed away? You want a stunning waterfront property, you should be ready able and willing to take upon yourself the cost of rebuilding it when it gets damaged. Theres no law that says that the public should be responsible to rebuild waterfront properties. It should be financed privately by the owner.

    This should apply to homes that repeatedly get serious water damage, with astronomical expense involved, financed largely by government funds.

    Theres only so much government funds can cover. There are much more worthy causes than rebuilding waterfront properties. It should be the owners’ responsibility. Then they’s think twice before purchasing these properties.

  9. mylogic37 says:

    It’s been said already many times. People need to give, anything you can. I donated yesterday $36 to achiezer. It’s not much but that is what I can do today. If you live in LA, CHI, DET, CLE anywhere…. if everyone gave $36 (of course if you can do better please do) it would make a BIG difference. Whatever you can do. These people are working AROUND the clock helping the situation while we sit in our warm houses (if you have power). At least DONATE some money!! Be a part of it!

    Thanks.

  10. cherrybim says:

    I agree; just said the same thing on another thread.

  11. myls87 says:

    @groisnaches

    I sincerely hope your comment was joke because if not I do not understand how you can call yourself part of the klal. Do you have any idea what these peoples financial situations are before and after the storms? Did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe they are barely making by? Are these people with these beautiful waterfront houses only allowed to give to your schools and fundraisers but g-d forbid when the table is turned you turn your back on them? Did it ever enter your clouded mind that it is remotely possible for someone to have a home by the water that is NOT “stunning”? When and IF you donate to any of the many worthy causes helping the victims, I guess you will have to hand deliver your donation to only those that are deemed worth to receive your gifts of help. You are correct that there is no law that the public should help rebuild these properties but there is no law of helping out another Jew as well and if that is something you can not understand then there are much deeper issues going on.

  12. msusman says:

    A message from Chabad of the Five Towns

    Important Update from Chabad for Monday, November 5

    Dear Friend,

    Our home is your home. Please feel free to spend the day, re-charge your batteries, connect to our Wi-Fi, enjoy breakfast, lunch until 4:30 PM and hot dinner served from 4:30 – 8:00 PM. We hope the warmth and camaraderie will help in the healing process.

    In addition we have services available to you and your family.

    This evening at Chabad there will be services available at no charge:

    A pediatrician for those children affected by the storm who are in need of medical attention, a social worker who can help both children and adults, and clowns from Lev Leytzan to help entertain the children.

    There are many people who need help packing up their homes and moving out wet furniture. If you can help, please let us know by calling Chabad at (516) 295-2478 or email me at rabbi@chababd5towns.com. We need packing materials including boxes and packing tape. If you have these supplies or you know of a corporate donor or if you are in need of this assistance, please let me know as well.

    If you are in the Five Towns/Far Rockaway area and are in need of immediate funds, please fill out an application from the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief fund. This fund is offered in conjunction with Achiezer and the Davis Memorial Fund. These funds are for immediate personal and family needs of Jewish families incurred as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy. For more information please call (516) 295-0296 or email communityassistancefund@gmail.com

    If you need a place to sleep or if you have sleeping accommodations available, please be in touch with me at Rabbi@chabad5towns.com. If it is urgent please contact me on my cell (516) 698-1566. Be extra careful about keeping children warm. Their body temperatures are more sensitive than adults and it is dangerous to keep them in the cold. We can help find you a warm place to sleep. Please note- there are goods, clothing, and toys available through Achiezer which are being distributed at Shor Yoshuv, 1 Cedar Lawn Avenue in Lawrence.

    For all those who have flood damage, please contact FEMA for disaster help. http://www.disasterassistance.gov. Please be sure to have the following information on hand: Insurance policy, social security #. bank account and routing #, and a phone number where you can be reached. Please be sure to take pictures of the damages to your property. You can call FEMA at (800) 621-3362. It is important to set up a claim as early as possible so they can come to assess your damages.
    Please also call our Congress women’s office, Caroline McCarthy’s office at (516) 739-3008 to request assistance.

    There will be a meeting of the Cedarhurst Trustees on TODAY, November 5 at Village Hall at 8:00 PM. This is an important opportunity to communicate with our elected officials. Please make every effort to attend.

    Again, Chabad of the Five Towns is here to help. If there is anything else you need, please let me know. Please call the office at (516) 295-2478 or call me on my cell at (516) 698-1566

    Rabbi Zalman Wolowik

  13. YITZCHOKY says:

    groisnaches says:
    November 5, 2012 at 11:58 am
    The collective cost of rebuilding and repairing water damaged homes is astronomical. While listening to Joan Hamburg discuss this on her radio show, she brought up a good point. Why is the public responsible for rebuilding waterfront homes that over time get washed away? You want a stunning waterfront property, you should be ready able and willing to take upon yourself the cost of rebuilding it when it gets damaged. Theres no law that says that the public should be responsible to rebuild waterfront properties. It should be financed privately by the owner.

    This should apply to homes that repeatedly get serious water damage, with astronomical expense involved, financed largely by government funds.

    Theres only so much government funds can cover. There are much more worthy causes than rebuilding waterfront properties. It should be the owners’ responsibility. Then they’s think twice before purchasing these properties. THE SIGN OF A JEW IS BEING BAAL CHESED. I am not going to tell people where to live or not. You probably blamed the Jews who were in Germany or Poland for getting killed because they should have not lived there. If you don’t want to give than shut up but don’t discourage others from giving. You should never need a hand out or a hand up

  14. Anonymous91 says:

    Achiezer’s main hotline is back up. Their number is (516) 791-4444.

  15. groisnaches says:

    I have NO problem, and I actually admore those who give charity generously to others living on the waterfront or anywhere else!

    Where I feel it goes bad, is when rebuilding affects taxpayers in a big way, for generations to come!

    How much more, and for how long, can we owe China in these troubled times, before the US ecenomy busts?

  16. a1mom says:

    As a resident of the community who was affected by the storm, I feel the need to respond so strongly that i created an account just to do so. Note most of the cheaper housing/ rentals in Far Rockaway and in Bayswater are located in areas that where badly hit by the storm, so any images you have of people taking your tzedoka money to renovate their Mcmansions are false. Families in kollel, chinuch,and young families saving to buy starter homes lost all their possesions due to flooding. Until the housing market opens up out there people dont have a choice but to fix up their damaged homes. As for moving in with someone else, that is a temporary fix. How do you propose these families get their kids into schools in middle of the year? or are you volunteering your kid’s spot?

  17. EY Mom says:

    To the writer of this letter:
    Do you have, and are you at liberty to disclose, the contact info for that bar mitzvah boy? I have a couple of friends whose sons will become bar mitzvah next week and they would like to mark this great milestone by helping out that boy. Thanks.

  18. nonnidev says:

    @ groisnaches
    You are basing your opinions on this:
    The collective cost of rebuilding and repairing water damaged homes is astronomical. While listening to Joan Hamburg discuss this on her radio show, she brought up a good point. Why is the public responsible for rebuilding waterfront homes that over time get washed away? You want a stunning waterfront property, you should be ready able and willing to take upon yourself the cost of rebuilding it when it gets damaged. Theres no law that says that the public should be responsible to rebuild waterfront properties. It should be financed privately by the owner.

    I hate to tell you; owners of waterfront property have insurance, NFIP and/or extra riders for said property. Additionally, some of these ‘ultra rich’ (also as you so believe) not only contribute to Tzedoko, but also support their children in Koillel, sponsor Hachnasat Orchim regularly, and at the snap of a finger, offer their ‘riches’ for any one in need.

    You offer your opinions based on a woman who sleeps on a $5,000.00 mattress and travels around the world to eat trayef. Who cares what she thinks!?

    A member of my family lives ‘on the water’ and he is also a member of the USCG. Will you belittle his contributions to the USCG, USNAF and 9/11 clean up because he happens to live in ‘waterfront property’?

    Most homes in ‘Zone A’ are not owned by ‘rich’ folks living in ‘stunning waterfront properties.’ Most homes in ‘Zone A’ and on the coastal areas of Long Island are NOT classified as upper end properties.

    Shuls located in low lying areas that lost everything – are they included in your paragraph too?

    I hope that you are reciting Tehillim for those who lost everything despite whatever vitriolic ideas that run around your mind.

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