Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Chabad helped in wake of Florence


September 21, 2018

Hurricane Florence and the eye of the storm, shown as it approached the U.S. East Coast.

(Chabad.org/News via JNS)-For the last 11 years, the Lieblich family of Wilmington, N.C., have always held Rosh Hashanah services on both days of the holiday.

This year, for the first time ever, they did not have a minyan for the second day because of a looming catastrophic weather threat: Hurricane Florence, which made landfall along the South Carolina, bringing with it massive storm surges and between 30 and 40 inches of rain in some places.

"There's a sense of urgency here that I haven't felt before," said Rabbi Moshe Lieblich, co-director of Chabad of Wilmington with his wife, Chana. "People are scared. Some have been crying. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, people were adamant that they were going to stay in their homes, but by the second day, they had changed their minds."

Wednesday morning found the rabbi driving around town trying to secure additional supplies, including gas and nonperishable food.

"It seems the whole of Wilmington is shut down," he recounted. "Ninety-five percent of stores are closed. Only a handful of gas stations have gas. I need propane for our generator and had to go to seven or eight places before I could get any."

Preparations for assistance are underway

As Hurricane Florence approached, Chabad-Lubavitch centers outside the range of the storm began preparing to help victims in every way

Just a year ago, Chabad brought relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey, trucking in supplies as 50 rabbis from a dozen states joined the clean-up and aid efforts. Soon after, Hurricanes Irma and Maria cut a swath of devastation through the Caribbean islands and the southeastern United States. In the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Florida Keys, Chabad emissaries picked up the pieces, organizing much-needed relief efforts and leading High Holidays services in the most trying of circumstances.

As North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned about this year's first major hurricane: "Disaster is on the doorstep, and it's coming in."

In the coastal, tourist town of Myrtle Beach, S.C., where there was mandatory evacuation orders in place, the Aizenman family left their home and head inland to ride out the storm with family members. They took with them the community's five Torah scrolls.

Rabbi Doron Aizenman, director of Chabad of Myrtle Beach with his wife, Leah, noted that everything in the town was closed-the shops, the businesses and the schools, including the Chabad Jewish Academy. They said they kept in touch with congregants as the storm developed.

"We just installed new windows and a new roof, and it's a strong structure, so we are hopeful there won't be any damage," he said, noting that "20 years ago, we had a roof fall off when we were in the middle of Shabbat prayers during another hurricane, but since then the roof has been sturdy and we've had other storms."

Said the rabbi: "We have a job to do, and as long as people are here and we can help out, if it's safe to do so, we will be there."

This story originally appeared on Chabad.org/News.


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