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New Orleans - Jews Prepare To Return after Hurricane Gustav

Published on: September 2, 2008 02:42 PM
By: Totally Jewish
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New Orleans - Members of the Jewish community are expected to start returning to their homes after Hurricane Gustav prompted a mass evacuation and forced synagogues, schools and community centres to shut.

Amid warnings from Mayor Ray Nagin that the impending hurricane represented the “storm of the century”, the local community went into emergency mode with the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans setting up a hotline to provide regular updates for those joining the largest evacuation in Louisiana history.

“We have back up cell phones, back up servers, we have special committees which are activated,” the organisation’s Executive Director Michael Weil said.

“We closed down the building, secured the roof, cut off all electricity except the alarm, everybody disconnected computers.
Everything that could be damaged was moved into a safe place. We collected Torah scrolls from a number of synagogues because we have a very strong sturdy three storey building and acted as a storage facility for scrolls.”

In stark contrast to three years ago when many in the Jewish community and the wider population remained behind in the face of Hurricane Katrina, an estimated 95 percent of the now 7,500-strong Jewish community followed a mandatory evacuation order put in place on this occasion to join the largest evacuation in Louisiana history. Many were welcomed “with open arms” by Jewish communities in areas including Memphis, Houston and Dallas.


Weil did not yet know whether any communal property had been damaged by Gustav. But while torrential rain and high winds brought down power lines and tress across the city, the region appeared to escape the worst of its impact and the newly-created levees were largely effective in preventing the flooding that caused so much devastation and claimed so many lives in 2005.

“People were very jittery last week,” said Weil. “It could have been a level four or category five hurricane and we were expecting a surge of something like 15 or 16 foot of water, but now they’re talking about nine foot of water.

“We’re saying a few words of prayer and keeping our fingers crossed. It looks like it isn’t as bad as expected but you never know as we saw with Katrina. It’s wise to be cautious at the moment.”

But “We are concerned for people in Houma, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Plaquemines Parish who may have been hit harder.”

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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 02, 2008 at 02:59 PM Anonymous Says:

That city should be destroyed. Its everthing contrary to G-D. Its the most filthiest immoral place in this country and this is a warning from the one above that very soon he will unleash his wrath and eliminate that filthy place once and for all


 Sep 02, 2008 at 03:24 PM Anonymous Says:

you're a disgusting human being, anon


 Sep 02, 2008 at 03:45 PM Anonymous Says:

I Second Anon 3:24pm. Let me add that the Baal Shem Tov oft said on the saying of Chazal Ain Adam Roeh Nigei Atzmo to mean that any fault that one finds in another is really his fault because otherwise it would not be revealed to him in order that he could rectify it.

Start to Repent.


 Sep 02, 2008 at 04:53 PM Anonymous Says:

I just came back from New Orleans a few weeks ago.
The people in this city are the nicest people in the USA.
Where in NY do strangers see a fellow jew and actually greet them and ask if they need anything.
Before you preach about how nasty it is, how many of you were actually there to substantiate their claims. Bourbon Street is the only filthy part of town, the rest is filled with hard working Americans trying to lead an honest life.

Can you say that about our own neighbors and neighborhoods?


 Sep 02, 2008 at 08:02 PM poshiter teanecker Says:

We should be Zoche to people like Rabbi Uri Topolosky who came down and revitalized the Jewish community there. He helped me perform major Kiruv and made a beautiful Purim for 350 Jewish volunteers who spent their college spring break rebuilding houses.

This city is rich in history and warm Jewish community that should never chus v'shalom be destroyed.


 Sep 02, 2008 at 08:05 PM Anonymous Says:

Emeril Lagasse is frum.he hosts shabbos dinner in his restauraunt. Great cholent,if a little spicy.


 Sep 03, 2008 at 05:19 AM Anonymous Says:

New Orleans has a long & rich history including Jewish! Its very interesting and in some cases unusual!


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