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Hurricane Dorian makes its way to Florida coast as Jewish agencies prepare to help

By MARCY OSTER
NEW YORK CITY (JTA) – Hurricane Dorian, which remained stalled over the Bahamas from Sunday Sept. 1 and over most of Monday, was making its way toward the Florida coast, although slowly at 1 mph.

It is not known exactly where and when the hurricane will make landfall.

The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County announced on Sunday that its offices as well as partners Alpert Jewish Family Service (JFS), Mandel JCC, Boynton Beach, Mandel JCC Palm Beach Gardens and Meyer Preparatory, are closed through Tuesday in anticipation of the effects of Hurricane Dorian.

The federation said in a statement posted on Facebook that it is in “constant contact” with local Jewish agencies, community partners and synagogues, as well as local government and emergency officials, to prepare for the storm and mobilize service to the community as needed.

Threat Continues
The storm was lowered from a Category 5 storm to a Category 4 on Monday; however, the National Hurricane Center issued hurricane, storm surge, and tropical storm watches and warnings from the Atlantic coast of Florida northward into Georgia.

“Although it remains uncertain just how close the eye of Dorian will get to the Florida east coast, the threat of damaging winds and life-threatening storm surge remains high,” the National Weather Service office in Melbourne, Fla., said Monday morning. “There will be considerable impacts and damage to coastal areas, with at least some effects felt inland as well.”

Over half a million Jews live in South Florida and areas such as Palm Beach, Fla.

Millions are under evacuation orders up and down the East Coast.

Effects of the hurricane will be felt on the coast in Georgia and both North and South Carolina in the middle and end of the week.

IsraAID to Send Team
The storm caused what has been described as “catastrophic damage” in the Bahamas. So far one 7-year-old boy has been reported dead and his young sister reported missing.

The Jacksonville, Florida Jewish Center announced on its website that it would be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday for all programs, including religious school. It provided resources for storm preparation and for tracking the storm, as well as a number of prayers one can say with the approach of a devastating storm.

“For those who have and are preparing to evacuate, we pray for your safe return. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those in the Bahamas who now face Dorian head-on. For those still in Dorian’s path, we pray for your safety and well being. May the one who makes peace in the heavens grant peace to all God’s children everywhere in the week ahead,” the message said.

The Israeli non-governmental organization IsraAID said on Friday that it was “planning “to send an emergency team” as Dorian headed for Florida’s east coast.”

“Our teams are monitoring the situation and preparing to send an emergency response team if needed,” IsraAID said. “We have extensive recent experience in Florida and the wider region.”

Chabad Prepares Too

Meanwhile, Chabad houses located along Florida’s east coast have been preparing for the storm for several days, including boarding up the buildings, purchasing food, and making arrangements for the protection of their Torah scrolls.

Chabad emissaries Rabbi Berl and Chanie Goldman, and Rabbi Aharon Chaim and Pessie Notik wrote in a statement: “As Hurricane Dorian approaches, its path still remains unclear, and there’s a lot of uncertainty. This post is out of an abundance of caution. We must hope, pray and ask Almighty G‑d to keep the hurricane out at sea and that ALL in the path of the storm will be safe and unharmed.”

The statement also called on the Jewish community and the general public to “stay informed, take this seriously and be prepared.” They ended their message by offering to make contact with anyone who lives alone and to bring them to Chabad for food, shelter, and companionship during the storm. NO ONE should be alone during a hurricane or tropical storm.”

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