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NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM) is now advising New Yorkers to prepare for ongoing sustained winds upwards of 30mph with wind gusts in excess of 70mph. Most Succoth, especially in open areas or experiencing sustained gusts, are not built for such conditions.
The Rabbinical Council of America is distributing this document, developed by Rabbi Kenneth Brander with profound thanks to Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita for his guidance. The relevant portion of the document follows:
Sukkot, Shemeni Atzeret & Simchat HaTorah
- If the weather forecast is for winds of over 40 mph there is a serious danger that the sukkah will become flying debris which can create dangerous projectiles and should be dismantled before Shabbat/Yom Tov.
- If there is a concern of schach flying around (in winds that are less than 40 mph winds) then the schach can be tied down even with plastic cable ties.
- If schach needs to be replaced or tied down on the sukkah on Shabbat or Yom Tov in can be done by a Gentile.
- If there is concern about going to shul on Simchat Torah morning – Vezot ha’Berakha can be read on the night of Simchat Torah in five aliyot. Alternatively should the storm pass by Simchat Torah afternoon then hakafot and torah reading can be read at an early mincha on Simchat Torah.
Of course, individuals and organizations should consult with their appropriate halachic authorities. Some additional tips:
- Secure your Sukkah to fixed objects such as posts or fencing. Unsecured bamboo mats can become airborne, leading to injuries and property damage. Unsecured walls (either canvas or plywood) are essentially sails and could collapse and/or blow away. This is already happening in the Washington, DC area.
- Balconies. Succoth built on balconies on higher floors are subject to higher winds.
- There is a likelihood of blackouts during the storm. See the RCA document here for additional guidance. The source document with citations can be found here.
- Drying. If you do take down and secure your Sukkah over the next few days, the materials and skhakh are likely to be wet. To avoid mold, be sure to thoroughly dry everything after Sukkoth before you store it. (HT Dori Zofan).
Thanks to NYCEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito and Assistant Commissioner Ira Tannenbaum for their ongoing leadership and concern. Here is the NYCEM guidance:
The National Weather Service forecast for the next several days includes wind speeds that are predicted to be between 15 and 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 mph at times. High winds can down trees and power lines, blow out windows, blow down signs, cause flying debris, and structural collapse. Individuals who have constructed a Succah for the holiday should take appropriate actions to secure the structure and roofing to prevent damage or injury from flying debris.
Assistant Commissioner, Public/Private Initiatives
New York City Emergency Management
165 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, NY 11201