Printed from JewishPuertoRico.com

Relief Updates

Disaster Relief Update 2

 

Dear Friend,

We have been inundated with calls and emails regarding the ongoing earthquakes in Puerto Rico. Friends inquiring regarding our welfare and the wellbeing of the community, and whether it’s safe to travel to Puerto Rico. Travel to Puerto Rico is all the more relevant during this period of time, for many in the Jewish community have their school scheduled Midwinter vacations starting January 17th. 

I take the opportunity to share with you our present reality. At about 8:52 am Shabbat morning as we were preparing for services, there was an intense tremor that turned out to be a 5.9 magnitude quake, this came following a Kaballat Shabbat evening shake at 5.4 magnitude, just as we were starting to chant L’cha Dodi and the after shocks continue.

The primary damage to property is in the southwest of the island, which is near the epicenter of the earthquakes.

Affected Areas 

Additionally, with the greater level of poverty prevalent in these townships, the homes constructed there are in many instances self-built family homes, without proper engineering oversight, this leads to a greater number of collapsed and damaged homes. Below see a picture of a home that I visited, allowing you to appreciate the fragility of these homes on an ordinary day, and why so many of these homes are more susceptible to collapse and damage. We pray and hope, that these families’ lives can be restored very soon with peace and tranquility. 

Broken Home 4

On Wednesday January 8th, we visited members of our community in Guanynilla at the Tropical Fruit Farm, located near and at the epicenter of some of the quakes, and had the opportunity to see the true impact of the earthquakes. From damaged infrastructure, to toppled cabinets and computers as a result of the violent shaking. From there we visited dozens of homes that were either collapsed or compromised. 

We will please G-d do what we can on our part to ease the difficulties and suffering that so many of these families are facing. See the following amazon list of products you can sponsor to provide warmth for those camping outside and in makeshift tents, with products of nourishment and well-being till they are able to return to their ordinary lives. We will be delivering aid products with our PR4PR volunteers on Tuesday, and providing  relief and entertainment for the children to allow them a distraction and just be children for some period of time. To be a partner with us please CLICK HERE.

Regarding travel to Puerto Rico, the northeast is fully operational and functional with just major hotels also providing backup generators that mitigate potential electric outages. For those that have not canceled their PR trips, we look forward to welcoming you to Isla del Encanto and for those that felt the had to cancel, we hope that you can reschedule and visit soon!

To contribute for aid relief go to: JewishPuertoRico.com/relief and while your at it please share a prayer as well!

Amazon List:  https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3U7L3JWNOZBC/ref=hz_ls_biz_ex

With gratitude and blessings, 
Rabbi Mendel & Rachel Zarchi 
Chabad of Puerto Rico - Serving the Caribbean

 

News Articles of Interest:

NYTimes - ‘Too Much’: Dread Fills Puerto Ricans as New Earthquake Stuns Island

AP News - Experts warn Puerto Rico not prepared for big earthquakes

Chabad.org - Puerto Rico Chabad Earthquake Relief Underway After Devastation 

Broken Home 3

Broken Home 2

 Broken Home 1

Disaster Relief Update


Dear Friends,
 
 

This morning Puerto Rico experienced an earthquake of 6.4 Magnitude, the strongest to jolt the Island of Puerto Rico since 1918. Less than 24 hours after a magnitude 5.8 quake struck the same area. Since Dec. 28, hundreds of small earthquakes have occurred in the Puerto Rico region. 

Some of the communities in the South have experienced damage, with many homes and some schools down or damaged. Let's do what we can to be of help! Some of the items being requested are water, toiletries and tents.

 You can CLICK HERE to contribute. 

While large swaths of the island are currently without electricity. By the grace of G-d we have been fortunate that our community infrastructure has been spared any structural damage. 

In continuance with our Maria relief efforts, where together with YOUR support we were able to to help so many. It is our hope to once again be a resource of support and help to the families in need. Tomorrow morning we will drive to the south and asses the damage impact for ourselves, so we can know where best we can channel our resources and efforts. We can only do this together united as one. 

Thank you to our friends who have reached out during the past 24 hours with concern and eager to be of help!!

With appreciation and gratitude, 

Rabbi Mendel & Rachel Zarchi
Chabad of Puerto Rico - Serving the Caribbean


Articles of Interest

NBC News - 6.4-magnitude quake strikes Puerto Rico, killing at least 1 amid heavy seismic activity - 

Fox News - Puerto Rico earthquake causes popular tourist rock formation to collapse

Washington Post  - Puerto Rico earthquake triggers blackout, reports of injuries and at least one dead 

 

Hurricane Maria Relief Update #6

Under normal circumstances, I refrain from such communications during the intermediate days of the Sukkot festival. 
 
This year, however, I cannot hold back.
 
I begin by thanking the thousands of donors from around the world who have made our critical, early emergency relief efforts possible. 

Apart from the monetary support you provided to alleviate the human suffering of the people of Puerto Rico, you gave us the courage and heart at the height of a desperate humanitarian crisis to step up and make a significant impact through direct contact with the most vulnerable families. Now, nearly twenty days on and having just concluded the first days of the Sukkot festival, our resolve and determination to help our neighbors has only grown and we stand ready to continue. 

We turn to you once again on behalf of the people who depend on us and ask that you make a gift to our hurricane relief efforts. You were the first donors who understood that Chabad consists of people on the ground who will do whatever it takes to help another human being; We will not let up anytime soon, and we know that we have found our equal in you, a partner who will stand by with us and those we help. 

If you have yet to donate to our relief efforts, please give whatever you can today at this most critical time. Please donate TODAY at ChabadPR.com/Relief and follow our relief efforts on Facebook at fb.com/chabadpr. Here is a link to a recent article about us in the NJ Jewish Standard.  

From the bottom of our hearts and the hearts of all those we have helped together, Thank YOU!
 
Here are a few messages we recently received: 

  • “Chabad, my sincere thank you for sending the State of Florida Police to my mother's house in Rincon. She was shocked and happy to see that someone reached out to her…”
  • “Bless you all! I found your non-profit organization on FB. My family just left the Chabad with diapers, food, and water and his daughter and grandchildren called me from PR overjoyed with all your help...”
  • “You have not hesitated, but stepped in to help all the people of Puerto Rico.”
  • “Thank you, G-d, for sending our Jewish brothers to help the Puerto Rican people in times of need.”
  • “We stayed by Chabad yesterday, and the Rabbi helped us get a hotel nearby. I love your staff there. Everyone is so caring and helpful!!” 

On the upside, Puerto Rico is exhibiting small signs of a return to normal life. Daily, the skies are filled with planes bringing food and provisions, and finally, gas is once again flowing. But the stubborn food lines persist, and people are still scrambling for drinkable water which remains scarce. 
 
We are pleased to report that we are receiving some much-needed supplies arriving today from the State of Florida.  This will continue to enable us to provide aid to some very desperate communities we have been working with closely. We will also be giving immediate cash aid in the form of $100 gift cards to be used at large retailers for the purchase of basic, life-sustaining food products. 
 
In addition, we have been supporting and collaborating with a special unit of the Florida State Police which has been making daily search and rescue missions across the Island.  The continuous reports of entire inland communities in dire straits have been very distressing, and we are exploring ways to help them with an immediate infusion of aid but with an eye to the future with sustainable programs and initiatives to help solve the longer-term issues they face. LET THE REBUILDING BEGIN!!

I would like to thank our many volunteers, staff, partner organizations and private individuals who have been so devoted and passionate, working together to help our community these past few weeks.  Special mention goes to Levid Ortiz - Director PR4PR, Goldy Retchkiman - Vice Chairperson of Florida WIZO and the volunteers of WIZO, David Levy, Idan Lavon (traveling to Israel… we will miss you,) Wilfredo Delgado, Gilberto Guzman, Elisheva Ramirez, Christina Polona, Sonia Fuentes, Roxanne Fuentes, Joseph Waks and the many Student volunteers in FL who have been loading the pallets, and our family who have tirelessly helped coordinate relief efforts from the mainland. 
 
Thank you again for empowering us, and we look with hope towards brighter days ahead.
 

Post-Hurricane Maria Update #5

My Dear Friends:
 
As we prepare to chant the solemn tune of the Kol Nidrei prayer for the nineteenth year since first arriving on the shores of Puerto Rico, I know that this Yom Kippur – in the shadow of the utter destruction inflicted on us by Hurricane Maria - will be unlike any other we have experienced yet. In these final hours before we will stand in front of the Al-mighty asking for his compassion and understanding, I implore you to hear our pain and demonstrate the very same compassion and understanding toward the humanitarian crisis we are facing in Puerto Rico and offer your support at this time. If you have already contributed, thank you!

Please click this link to donate and click here to follow our relief efforts.  

Every day we are confronted by extraordinary challenges, unfathomable just one week ago. Six-hour lines for rationed fuel; dire shortages of drinking water, food and essential living needs; thousands held hostage in the sweltering heat on upper floors of apartment buildings and homes without elevators or generators; no communication; no transportation; and numerous other insurmountable challenges. We have been inundated with frantic emails and calls from people anxious for information about their elderly and infirm relatives. There are NO emergency services available! 911 advises callers to “please be patient and wait until communication is restored!” They simply do not have the human resources and funds to help and those who cannot fend for themselves have been all but left alone.
 
Here is a sample of one of the dozens of communications we received today, this one from a Jewish resident of Florida:

"My sister and her husband are trapped in their 5th-floor apartment in San Juan. She is unable to use the stairs and obviously can't use the elevator (without power). She has huge medical issues, wheelchair and more and needs to leave PR to FL. Any ideas how to get her out and onto boat to FL? They live at..........Any suggestions would be appreciated greatly".

We will do all we can to get them out. 

Along with this, we are experiencing an unprecedented exodus of tens of thousands of people desperate to be relieved of the unbearable conditions. Today alone, Royal Caribbean evacuated 3,800 residents on one cruise ship and two privately chartered planes sold out within an hour at $1,250 with thousands more on standby lists desperate to get out.
 
Today, thanks to the generosity of one grateful Chabad friend who found shelter and food at Chabad during the past week of paralysis, we were left with a car filled with gas and our volunteers were able to make their first excursion to the eastern side of the island on a search and rescue mission in response to desperate calls we had received. At one home they found an elderly gentleman sitting outside in a chair.  When asked if he had water, he calmly responded no.  When asked whether he had food the same response was forthcoming. He gratefully accepted water and food staples from us to supply him through the week.

The destruction, utter poverty and squalor we were exposed to on a recent relief mission in partnership with PR4PR – a local social-services organization working in inner-city communities - was astounding.  These destitute people are filled with faith in G-d and appreciation to the Jewish people and Israel. The little they own – the shacks which they spent a lifetime building – have been utterly destroyed by the hurricane, leaving the poor suffering inhabitants, exposed and vulnerable to the elements.  
 
The response to this overwhelming tragedy demands a national initiative. We are a nation built on compassion and kindness, and we must demand that Puerto Rico – especially those most vulnerable and impoverished – be treated with those very attributes.  America! Heed the call of the Torah and ‘do not stand not idly by the blood of your brother.’ Let's do the right thing as a nation and live up to the value of ‘equality for all.’  With your help, Chabad Maria Relief has been doing the utmost possible to alleviate the terrible plight of those in need in our community, and will continue devoting the fullest measure of our efforts in that direction.  
                                                      
Personally, this has been very difficult for us. As friends of Chabad of Puerto Rico, you are no doubt aware that our family has devoted our lives to serving the Jewish population and visitors of the Island.  Over the last ten days, we have seen much of our hard work compromised for the indefinite future.  Yet, even as our personal living quarters have been constrained to a 12’ x 12’ room with air mattresses at Chabad, we are hopeful for the future and consider ourselves privileged and fortunate to be in a position to help others and lead by example.  We look forward to the day when we can welcome you back to our beautiful and restored Island.
 
אבינו מלכנו פתח שערי שמים לתפילתנו - Our Father, our King, open the gates of Heaven to our prayer! 
 
Wishing you a Gmar Chatima Tova and an easy fast.

With blessings,
Rabbi Mendel and Rachel Zarchi
Chabad of Puerto Rico - Serving the Caribbean

Please click here to follow our relief efforts on Facebook page and click here to donate.


Chabad Maria Relief Shelter
Chabad Maria Relief Shelter

Chabad Maria Relief Efforts
Chabad Maria Relief Efforts (Rabbi Zarchi, left)

Chaotic Long Lines at the Airport
Chaotic Long Lines at the Airport

Evacuating Puerto Rico

This is an account of someone who got out on a commercial flight yesterday together with his wife:

“Michael we got out on American. There seems to be also a delta and a JetBlue flight leaving. They seem to leave around midday when the visibility is good.

 

We called American and got on the wait list for any flight out - that is the key part. The wait list. Then we were assigned seats for the next day.

 

Once we had our seats - you have to keep calling the airline to get the seats. We went to the airport at 8 for a flight. Don't go any later than that. Lines are long and tempers high. We probably should have gone at 6 or 7. Also leave a lot of time to get a taxi - there are not many around.

 

The airport had one security check point open and was running the scanners. No ac. However some small stores with food water open inside terminal.

 

The plane was a 747? (big) the people with assigned seats got on after the disabled and children at... There were 30 wheelchairs.

 

Then they fill the remaining seats from the standby list. That takes another couple of hours. Ac was on on plane.  Tickets are written by hand, and prone to errors. Staff are working from check lists and head counts.

 

It might be possible to check a bag. We didn't and do not recommend checking. The chances of the bag making it seem slim however I saw some people with big bags.”

Hurricane Relief Update #4

UPDATE #4

In the early morning hours, Idan and Saul from Chabad set out in to navigate the inundated flooded streets of Ocean Park in a search and rescue mission to locate members of the community.  Communication on the Island was brought to an abrupt halt by the storm damage and many people – especially the elderly and infirm - have not been heard from in almost a week. Emergency services have declared the area a disaster zone and will not attempt to make contact until communications are restored. To see the utter devastation firsthand and so close to home was shocking.  Thousands of homes are locked in by the filthy flood-waters even six days post storm. With gratitude to the Almighty we were able to locate the families and bring them food and water supplies. But with extreme gas shortages, even those life-saving missions are curtailed.  Friends eager to travel out to their farm in the South and survey the damage, waited on a gas line from 5:30 am to 12:30 pm to receive twenty dollars of gas for each vehicle!

The supply chain on the Island is just not functioning yet and the situation continues to remain dire.  The total breakdown of communication equipment has compounded the crisis.  Many – myself included – have taken to walking the streets in search of reception to co-ordinate our relief efforts – much of which has been aided by those on the outside who have been assisting with logistical arrangements of aid transport. 

Chabad Maria Relief has also partnered with PR4PR to provide critical, humanitarian aid to those in the most challenged areas.    PR4PR is a 501(c)3 community service organization in PR which has been servicing over thirteen of San Juan’s most challenged communities, running summer camps and after school and holiday programs for 7-17 year olds.  

With the generous support of Nakash Family - Dedicators of the Nakash Family Synagogue in Puerto Rico - a private plane filled with life-saving relief supplies including pallets of food, water, medical goods and other aid arrived at SJU yesterday. All the goods on board were provided by an amazing group of people responding to our distress call in under 24 hours including: Ralph Nakash with ons Shauly and Ariel, Al Shama, Dr. Avishai Neuman, Elie Rowe 911 Emergency Coordinator, Moishe Malamud with his son Yisroel Malamud and Yossi Katz. 

The joy and appreciation on the faces of emergency aid recipients was staggering to see! One response was, "I love Israel and the Jewish people; G-d bless you"!  We were also grateful to assist in the evacuation of Israeli citizens who have been trapped on the Island with no way off owing to the limited transportation.  It was a jolting moment of reality, coordinating and seeing the departure of so many of our dear friends and community members, who are very much a part of our lives on a daily basis - we await your return!

In the short term, the beautiful Island of Puerto Rico is experiencing a great void and emptiness. The loss of lives, destruction of homes, unrecognizable landscape and now the departure of many of its dear residents. However as the natives are oft to say "Viva Puerto Rico" - Puerto Rico is blessed with resilient and loyal people who will persevere and rebuild and Isla Del Encanto will emerge as a stronger and more viable place to live. 

So it is time for all of us to do our best and make a difference in the lives of so many - don't stand idle! Together, let’s bring hope and aid to those awaiting our response by contributing at www.ChabadPR.com/Relief!  A great thank you to the continued selfless efforts and financial support of so many! For more updates please visit Facebook.com/chabadpr.

If you have already given monetarily please consider bulk contributions of the following: 

  • Canned foods - small size preferable
  • Cereals
  • Coffee
  • Flashlights with Batteries
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Long Shelf Milk
  • Rice    
  • Water

With blessings for a G’mar Chasima Tova,

Rabbi Mendel and Rachel Zarchi 
Chabad of Puerto Rico - Serving the Caribbean
Geraldo Rivera reports on Puerto Rico

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/09/25/geraldo-rivera-touring-puerto-rico-after-hurricane-maria-was-depressing-experience.html

plane.jpeg

 
 
 
 
 
 

Gmar Chasima Tova - Update 3

After a hectic Yom Tov and many concerned friends reaching out to us making sure we're okay, I'd like to share with you the following update:

Wednesday afternoon, Erev Rosh Hashanah:
As the punishing winds finally subsided after a pounding of fourteen hours - during which we were unable to receive any news of where the eye of the storm was and its wind velocity, as all internet reception was down - we were able to make limited calls, so we called a friend in Florida who works with one of the storm tracking agencies. He reported the last reading of wind velocity was 155 MPH at the SJU airport a few blocks from the Chabad House, before all of the Radars ( estimated 21) went down. The natural flow of water on Rosa Street, where Chabad is located, is towards the North in the direction of the ocean. At 5:30 am, there was a raging river with waves of about three feet high flowing in the opposite direction towards the South. Surveying the Chabad House, we discovered that the Shul was flooded with hundreds of gallons of water, apart from one section of the roof that was totally ripped off, and the expected water entry into various parts of the structure resulting from a storm of this magnitude. We began sweeping out the water into the patio, and with the help of some amazing volunteers, the shul was ready for davening after two hours of nonstop water removal. 

As we finally stepped out of the Chabad House at 4:00 pm to survey the outside, we were met by devastating destruction; a numbness and a daze can be seen over the faces of the few that ventured out at that time - this carried on over the next few days. We encountered blasted out windows, toppled utility poles mangled with just an overwhelming amount of downed trees, smashed cars and blown outdoors, ripped off roofs from nearby homes and major hotels, with massive commercial signs littering the roadways. What was strange was that the landscape looked so different - as we can suddenly see for blocks away that were previously covered by greenery. 

Together with a community volunteer we made it over to our home complex that looked like a war zone, as Rosh Hashanah was quickly arriving we ran into our home, other than a downed ceiling in one of the kids room as a result of some damage to the roof, and water seepage into the various rooms, we quickly drained two feet of water from the backyard threatening to enter the home. We quickly ran over to our neighbors home who was out of town to check up on their house, their dining room had water from water overflow to the patio, so we quickly unclogged the drains to the patio allowing the water to recede. We ran back to Chabad with twenty minutes to spare for Rosh Hashanah

A few neighbors made it over for Evening services, we had a beautiful Yom Tov meal prepared by the Rebbetzin, and we all thanked Hashem for allowing us to enter into the New Year after experiencing so much devastation. 

Thursday morning:
Before Tekios, I managed a walk outside about 7 am, and the streets were deserted other than a few walkers. I walked the neighborhood a bit, and just took in all of the wrecked homes and Hotels - Hampton Inn wrecked, Intercontinental a disaster, The-Ritz Carlton Hotel was covered with trees and parts of its missing roof. I was told they would need to close for repairs for some time. The main street was flooded and impassable, amidst all this, ONE person stopped to look around and amazingly chose to do something about the flooding. He bent down and started cleaning out the street drain and the water started gushing into the drain, I was told he was still there an hour later working with the drain. What an inspiration - this person chose to take action and bring order to the chaos - Right there was fantastic sermon material. 

Amazingly we had minyanim both mornings of Rosh Hashanah contrary to misleading news reports. There were many that simply could not arrive to massive flooding on many of the access routes. Food was served and people walked in throughout the day for meals, to meet people, chat and share their honor stories and get some of the trauma out of the system. They were welcomed with cold and warm drinks, a warm and friendly atmosphere and were able to refresh and make use of something as basic as access to a restroom. We had volunteers from a security company pick up RME meals to distribute in areas where people had no access to food. 

We were in total news blackout as to what was going on around the island, as it was Yom Tov as well as no one in the area knew what was really going on, as there was no communications, no phone service, no TV or radio and no internet. Slowly word began to spread as to the devastation and destruction to the interior of the islands with massing flooding and deaths reported. 

Worry and concern were all over, and people could not reach family or friends and with roads impassable, most of these areas are totally cut off and inaccessible. We keep receiving emails and messages to look our for families or friends in different parts of the island, and we will do all we can to bring back some news. At present we have no way to communicate other than email in certain hotspots and spotty mobile reception with some mobile networks. We are not able to communicate with most of our community members — we desperately hope that will all change shortly. 

At present, the entire infrastructure on the island is in total collapse: Total outage of power in the entire Island, buildings and hotels with generators are now in ration mode, as they cannot get refills for their fuel and diesel, minimal gas available and the few that opened have law enforcement guarding them with lines hours long and priority given to emergency and medical personnel. No communications, most of the island without water, 24/7 supermarkets that are icons in the community are opening for limited hours due to limited supplies, businesses open are limited to cash sales resulting from the system collapse - as such there is increased looting and increasing desperateness.

If you would like and are able to join in the efforts click here - ChabadPR.com/Relief 

Our current goals for Funding:

  • Food and water for distribution and essential supplies
  • Water trucks for portable water
  • Fuel and gas for Chabad Generator usage - estimated for next six weeks 
  • Twenty-four-hour armed security at Chabad for the next six weeks
  • Repairs to Chabad center for items not covered by insurance and deductibles
Our heartfelt wishes for a G’mar Chasima Tova, a Year filled with complete health and happiness with blessings for abundance to all.

With complete appreciation and admiration for the continued expressions of warmth and friendship by so many from every walk of Jewish life — humbling and inspiring!

Rabbi Mendel and Rachel Zarchi


ENCLOSED ARE RECENT NEWS ARTICLES

http://nypost.com/2017/09/22/cuomo-back-after-seeing-heartbreaking-devastation-in-puerto-rico/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/if-anyone-can-hear-us--help-puerto-ricos-mayors-describe-widespread-devastation-from-hurricane-maria/2017/09/23/7ef5f6c4-a069-11e7-8ea1-ed975285475e_story.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/puerto-ricans-who-survived-hurricane-maria-charity-flies-hope-aid-n804181

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/guajataca-failing-puerto-rico-dam-pushed-to-breaking-point/

Post Rosh Hashana Update



It's a real disaster. 

There's no electricity on the entire island.
Most of the island does not have running water.
There's no communication; no radio, no TV.  
Supermarkets are either closed or rationing.
The looting is compromising desperate people's security to get out and try to get some basic needs. 

We need emergency funding for:

  • Food and water for distribution and essential supplies
  •  
  • Water trucks for portable water
  •  
  • Fuel and gas for Chabad Generator usage - estimated for next six weeks 
  •  
  • Twenty-four-hour armed security at Chabad for the next six weeks
  •  
  • Repairs to Chabad center for items not covered by insurance and deductibles
  •  

 Chabad is a place of refuge, comfort, meals, showers and restrooms, battery charging and hospitality. 

The situation so far has not improved; it will take months to put the island back together. We pray and hope it can be sooner, yet, realistically, there's a lot of work to be done!

Update 2 from Rabbi Zarchi

As we spent the night waiting -- we had time to reflect and daven for ourselves the island and all of the neighboring Caribbean Islands. At 5:00 am the howling of the winds were just too much -- the street below was a raging river with waves rushing upstream. We moved out to the storage room that is the safest room in the building. 

The Chabad house has held up relatively well BH for a storm of this monumental proportion. 

At present the new beautiful Shul is flooded from massive window leakage,  this water flowed into the social hall. It seems the roof system comprised of special membrane is completely ripped off and dangling from the sides of the building, constantly threatening the safety of the windows. There are uprooted trees at the entrance of Chabad, ripped out gates, windows of homes just completely blown out. Massive flooding and extremely dangerous winds still ripping through the island will keep people at home. 

היום הרת עולם -

It's days like these that we see who is the real governing force of the universe - we cannot control the events, it's how we respond to them that defies us. The amazing achdus and Ahavat Yisroel that has been displayed by our community members texting and calling one another all night to make sure all are safe and ok was so inspiring. We have received calls from England, Israel, Australia and where not. I'm sorry our communication is very poor, the entire island of three and half million people are without electricity. Making it nearly impossible to respond to all of your communications - so a heartfelt band BIG thank you!

Our chazan's flight scheduled to arrive yesterday midday, mid flight had to return to Chicago due to hydraulics malfunction, the chazan was rerouted to Atlanta, only to find out upon arrival that the flight took off two hours early to arrive in PR before the SJU airport would be closed down. 

Now the work begins, with the removal of debris and the clearing out of the hundreds of gallons of water that flooded the Shul and some of the common areas. We will then set the tables, Daven and be ready to share all of our resources, to ensure that everyone that can make it over, can celebrate Rosh Hashana and give thanks to HaShem for granting us life and affording us the opportunity to be his ambassadors here on earth and declaring his kingship. 

Food and water supplies will be distributed and please G-d we will be able to restock and continue to provide and look after the welfare of our community and the island residents. We are in touch with FEMA officials to possibly see if they can use the Chabad center as a location for their relief efforts as well.

Thank you to all those who generously shared prayers, good wishes and contributions to help with the ongoing relief efforts and for what is sure to be a painful journey to recovery.

With best wishes for a blessed New Year and a K'siva Va'chasima Tova.
 
Following Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat We will do our utmost to give you an updated brief of life in Puerto Rico. 

If you would like and are able to join in the efforts click here - ChabadPR.com/Relief 
 
Rabbi Mendel Zarchi
Chabad of Puerto Rico - Serving the Caribbean

BELOW ARE LIVE IMAGES FROM PUERTO RICO
 


 


 


 

 

Maria Has Hit Puerto Rico - Stay Tuned for More Updates



Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico with a one-two punch of high winds and driving rain on Wednesday, and sent thousands of people scrambling to shelters.

Electricity was knocked out on the whole island, and the authorities have warned weary residents not to let down their guard, because flash flooding and mudslides could be more deadly than the initial winds.

Calls for rescue immediately started pouring in -- but to no avail; emergency rescue crews are not permitted to go out with winds higher the 50 mph.

Chabad of Puerto Rico, based year-round on the island, is on the ground and gearing up to provide essential relief to our friends and citizens who have been severely impacted. 

We will be facilitating this at our center at 18 Calle Rosa Carolina, PR 00979, as well as going into the heavier hit areas to provide relief.

Volunteers are needed to help distribute critical supplies such as water, gift cards from home repair stores, clothing, pillows and blankets. 
We are actively working on procuring more supplies to support to the residents in the hardest hit areas of around Puerto Rico.

Please contribute or donate in any way you can. We are in need of supplies and funds to ensure we can help as many people as possible and as soon as possible.

For donating goods and supplies, please email relief@chabadpr.com.
All Donations are tax-deductible.
Payable to: Chabad Puerto Rico - 18 Calle Rosa, Carolina, 00979, Puerto Rico

If you know of any persons in need of assistance, please be in touch with us immediately by texting to  +1 787-525-1882 or emailing relief@chabadpr.com . 

Update from Rabbi Zarchi - Shana Tova

We have been receiving calls, texts and emails from friends and family from all over the world — are we ok, whats going on……..the concern, love warmth and Chizuk was so amazing it cemented the amazing reality that we Klal Yisroel are one family one unit, we share each others simchos, and setbacks as if they were our own. Not even for a single moment did we feel alone. 

We figured we would share a quick note and address all of our family and friends. 

Puerto Rico has been the one receiving and sheltering those people coming by boat and military planes from the decimated Caribbean Islands -- we at Chabad Puerto Rico were privileged to be in a position to provide shelter and essentials for dozens on a moments notice - just this Wednesday we received a frantic call from a family who finally made it out of Anguilla with a US military plane. They were at the airport in San Juan with NOTHING other the a few hand bags - this was left of their material belonging. We had them picked up from the airport and provided them with shelter food and had some community volunteers take them shopping for the essentials that they no longer had. And now Puerto Rico is In the cross-hairs:

The day was filled with intensity and urgency, word and news spread very quickly, that what was expected to be a category 1 or 2 hurricane was morphing into a category four and before this was internalized it was a historic category five currently packing 175 mile hour winds. Puerto Rico has never experienced a direct hit above category four and that was back in 1928. We cancelled our children’s tickets who were to join us for Rosh Hashanah. Water, gas and essentials were now on every ones radar. Challenge was, that Puerto Rico was still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, where most of the island was with out electricity for almost a week, with some seventy thousand families still without power. The suppliers simply could not provide enough supplies in this short amount of time. Water was nowhere to be found

So we reached out to a Chabad friend who has a water factory to facilitate our purchase for palettes of water, our trucker waited for four hours on line for our water with an endless line continuing to build. With water secured;

We then reached out to our colleagues in Texas from Chabad Harvey Relief Campaign - Rabbi Moshe Traxler, and in the shortest time feasible they coordinated the arrival to PR of some 1,000 MRE meals available for distribution and three 6000 kw generators. We managed to run over to a few elderly residents before the onset of the storm and deliver meals  and water to their great relief and appreciation.

At just about 11:30 pm electricity has gone out in just about most of the island -- and we are grateful for the generator that arrived today just before onset of the storm allowing us some light, fan and battery charging.

 The messageage to our community is:

When it is safe to venture out, we will be waiting for you at Chabad for RH davening and warm Yom Tov meals, for lunch and dinner. We now await Maria's visit that is forecasted to be the most brutal in Puerto Rico's modern history. We hope and pray for divine compassion!

Wishing our family and friends a K'siva Vachasima Tova and Shana Tova Um'suka.

We are humbled and grateful for your concern - may HaShem reciprocate your kindness with the ultimate blessing of healing and redemption for our universe. We await the יתקע בשופר גדול

Many of you are asking what you can do:

You can say a Kapitel Tehillim, email or text a kind greeting, or empower us by contributing to the emergency fund @ chabadpr.com/donate

With gratitude and blessings,

Rabbi Mendel and Rachel Zarchi
Chabad of Puerto Rico - Serving the Caribbean

Recent ABC News update
http://abcnews.go.com/International/merciless-hurricane-maria-pummels-dominica-takes-aim-puerto/story?id=49944250

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