In One of Hardest Areas Hit by Sandy, Community Comes Together
“I am not here as a representative of a foreign Government. I am here in the first place as a New Yorker, and as a concerned member of this great community, and I am impressed with the unity and resilience shown” said Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Consul General after touring the area devastated by Hurricane Sandy earlier today (Friday, November 9th). Ambassador Aharoni toured the area as part of a group of community leaders and elected officials that came to witness firsthand not only the devastation and destruction, but also the way people were banding together to rebuild.
Joining the group were NY State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Michael Miller, Vice President of the Jewish Community Relations Council, John Rusky, CEO of the UJA-Federation, William E. Rapfogel, Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, and Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder. The many community leaders visited Young Israel of Bayswater and Wavecrest Comfort Center and Command Post, where the community has really stood up to this challenge, reaching out to one another. During the storm, the Synagogue was flooded, and while almost two dozen Torah scrolls were saved by Jewish leaders, five were damaged irreversibly and are expected to be buried.
The delegation then visited “The White Shul” where outside, local Queens residents were receiving much needed support from Israeli Flying Aid, a non-profit, non-governmental aid organization that helps people all over the world who are affected by natural disasters and other tragedies. IFA was going from one place to another, from field hospitals and shelters, manifesting the Israeli spirit of care extending a helping hand to those affected by Sandy. A local Israeli entrepreneur from New Jersey, Moti Kahana, spearheads the organization as it brought fuel tankers helping deliver between 400 and 500 gallons of gasoline free to those in need.
When Hurricane Sandy smashed into central New Jersey, the storm decimated many areas in the Tri-State areas as a result of extreme flooding. The storm surge tragically cost many Americans their lives, and in many communities, the recovery efforts are ongoing. Power is still trickling back, gas shortages are rampant, and homes have been destroyed. Far Rockaway is one of the hardest hit areas of New York City, a peninsula at the southernmost point of Queens and directly in harm’s way when Sandy struck.
Just this Wednesday, over a week after Superstorm Sandy, the community of Far Rockaway took another hit when a snowstorm struck, which resulted in a death.
If there is one thing to be learned about the recovery efforts, it’s that individuals not only have the ability to make a serious impact, but they’re doing so every day on the ground in Far Rockaway, Queens.