Security/Emergency Information

Hurricane Earl may visit: Are you ready?

Posted on August 31, 2010
As of this posting, Hurricane Earl is a Category 4 storm in the Caribbean. Forecasters predict that Earl will move up the East Coast and pass 100-200 miles off of Montauk as a Tropical Storm on Friday night/Saturday morning (see Shabbat tips below). The heavy wind and rains increase the likelihood of flooding, fallen trees, blocked roads and power outages, especially on Long Island. 

For more information (including an overview and NY area historic patterns and conditions), view an excellent presentation by I. Ross Dickman, Meteorologist-in-charge, NOAA’s National Weather Service, New York, NY office.

The JCRC-NY recommends:
  • Be informed. Broadcast and print media are doing a good job, but storms can be unpredictable. Pay attention to the updates. For preparation planning tips, see information from NYC, Nassau (including evacuation routes), Suffolk and Westchester.
  • Plan and Prepare. 
    • Stockpile food, water and medicine. Organizations should alert their members and suggest that they top off their food supply and check that they have sufficient medication on hand in the event that they can’t leave the house. People should also have a reserve of water (it’s a good idea to freeze water in gallon plastic bags which can help to prevent the food in your refrigerator from spoiling in the event of a power outage). 
    • Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit for Home and a Go-Bag for Evacuation 
    • Prepare a Personal Evacuation Plan 
    • Develop a Family Communications Plan
    • Prepare your organizations for power outages
  • Remember Shabbat. The storm forecast coincides with Shabbat which may require additional preparatory steps: 
    • Reach out to local officials. If you have special concerns over Shabbat (see below), discuss them with your local police of fire officials. 
    • Make decisions before the storm. The Orthodox Union issued Shabbat Protocols in Case of a Hurricane, written by Rabbi Kenneth Brander (now of Yeshivah University) with thanks to Rabbi Hershel Schachter for his guidance. While these protocols are an excellent guide to the issues of concern, consult with appropriate rabbinical authorities about specific guidance regarding the expected conditions of the upcoming storm.

  • Minyan. If a hurricane is happening on Shabbat, stay home! Try to prearrange with your rabbi to have the congregation lain two parshiyot on the next Shabbat. 
  • Services should take place on Shabbat, if: 
    • a) the storm has passed; AND 
    • b) civil authorities declare the area safe. 
  • If there is no electricity, services should take place only during daylight hours. If there is electricity, services can be held as regularly scheduled. 
  • Assume there is no Eruv. 
    • Carrying permitted for life/limb threatening situations. 
    • Carrying permitted for individuals who need medical attention without which a person’s functionality is compromised, (even for a bed-ridden headache). In this case carrying should be done, only if possible, in an irregular fashion (i.e. carrying medicine in ones belt or shoe). 
    • Carrying permitted to allow a baby, infirm seniors or a child traumatized by the event to function without compromise. In this case carrying should be done, if possible, in a irregular fashion (i.e. two people carrying or wheeling the stroller/person.) 
  • Use of candles and flashlights 
    • Use yahrzeit or hurricane candles lit before Shabbat placed in designated locations (many disaster experts caution against the use of candles at any time because of the risk of fire. Most Jewish households are accustomed to having yahrzeit candles lit for 24 hours. Use appropriate caution.). 
    • Hang/place lit flashlights with fresh batteries in key locations before Shabbat. 
  • If flash light/candle goes out: 
    • When necessary (to take care of children, to eat, etc.) and there is no other light, a non-Jew can relight or change batteries. 
    • If not having the light may create a life threatening situation, you may do it yourself. 
    • Moving candles and flashlight is permitted in the following situations: 
      • For any medical concerns no matter how slight. 
      • Carrying permitted for comfort and welfare of seniors and children under eight (or above eight years old when child is traumatized by the event). 
      • When possible, moving a candle, should be done by two individuals. 
  • Television or Radio
    •  TV or radio should be left on in a side room
    •  Channel should not be changed
    • Volume on radio may be adjusted on Shabbat. Better to keep it on low for it preserves the battery and only raise it when necessary.
    • You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action.
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