New York - Poskim Advisory: Rulings Regarding Shabbos Observance And The Impending Hurricane
These rulings were approved by both Rabbi Dovid Weinberger Shlita Posaik on behalf of Hatzolah of Hatzolah of Far Rockaway/Five Towns, and Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst Dayan of Chicago, a renowned Posaik.
1] Anyone who is concerned of a danger may and should leave the radio on over Shabbos. Ideally the volume control should be taped. It should also be placed in a room that is generally not used – so that you can access information readily. If the situation requires that the volume control should be raised, an attempt to raise it with a shinui should be made. Otherwise it may be raised normally.
2] If the radio says that the storm is definitely or most likely approaching and a situation of pikuach Nefesh will exist, then one may make preparations to leave on Shabbos if it is estimated that leaving Motzei Shabbos will not leave one with sufficient time to avoid being stuck.
3] Everyone remaining in a potential mandatory evacuation zone should prepare from before Shabbos to leave on Motzei Shabbos immediately.
4] In the event that one must evacuate on Shabbos – ideally one should have a gentile drive the car or one should call a cab. When one reached safety one may not shut the car off – one should request a gentile to do so. If there will be a further need to evacuate and one needs to spare gasoline then one may shut it off.
5] If one is evacuating on Shabbos – one may not carry items other than what is needed for Shabbos, food for a baby even for beyond Shabbos, and medications that are of a potential life threatening nature (heart medication eg.)
The reason for the urgency is that the evacuation routes are limited because of flooding of the highways and the closing down of bridges. Leaving on Motzei Shabbos may not give people sufficient time to escape. The Mayor has issued evacuation orders from many low lying areas and much of the Rockaways [Area A and Area B]. It is therefore advisable for anyone who can to evacuate before Shabbos to either the Flushing area of Queens, Brooklyn,
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Below From Agudath Israel - Halachic Guidelines for Hurricanes:
The following is reprinted from the Halacha Hurricane Manual published by Agudath Israel of Florida, based on questions asked to Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Rav Agudas Yisroel of Baltimore.
1. In case of an impending hurricane predicted to hit on Shabbos, may one leave the radio on?
Yes, leave the radio on in a private area on a low volume.
2. If told to evacuate, what should one do?
One must always do whatever is necessary to protect one’s life. Therefore one is allowed to drive to a secure place and take along whatever is necessary, even money. Once one is out of harms way, he should stay put until after Shabbos. If a child or elderly person is present and staying in the car would be a danger, one can proceed to a shelter. One may also put gas in the car if needed to arrive at a safe place.
3. If one stays home, may the shutters be placed on the windows?
There are two popular types of shutters: accordion and panel. Accordion shutters are permanently attached to the home and may be closed. Panel shutters need to be installed with each use and may only be placed on the windows if the situation is one where life is in danger-not to protect property.
4. If instructed to bring indoors all loose furniture and garden equipment, is one allowed to?
One is permitted to bring indoors whatever might pose a danger.
5. If someone sees a power line fall and it poses a danger can one contact the authorities?
A person should never venture out during or right after a hurricane. Coming in contact with downed power lines could be fatal. Unless the power line could cause a serious danger to the people in the home, one should wait until after Shabbos to report it.
6. Does the category of the hurricane make a difference?
The different categories represent the intensity of the hurricane winds and the danger they pose. But the authorities can determine that even a category one or two hurricane poses enough of a threat to certain areas to demand an evacuation. In such cases, all necessary precautions should be taken.
7. If someone lives alone and needs assistance to evacuate, may one drive there to pick the person up and bring him or her to safety?
One is allowed to do what is necessary to protect one’s own life or the life of someone else in danger.
8. At what wind velocity should the eruv not be assumed to be kosher?
Once the winds reach the speed of 35 mph, one should assume the eruv is not kosher and should not carry outside.
9. If the electricity went out and was then turned back on, may one eat the food that was on the blech or hot-plate?
If the food was fully cooked (or even 1/3 cooked) and is still hot, one may consume the food. Otherwise, one should consult a Rav.
List of essential items: batteries, flashlights, candles, yartzheit candles, canned food, bottled water- 1 gallon per day per person, battery powered radio, important documents sealed in a water proof bag, insurance information, photographs of household valuables.
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