By Avromy Fried
Friends and relatives have been asking me what happened at my Yeshiva, Yeshiva Merkaz HaTorah of Belle Harbor. But I’m not a speaker or a writer. I can only describe the scene the way I saw it, as an eyewitness from the very beginning. My camera tells the story better than I ever could; you can see my pictures at www.ymhbh.com.
Week 1: Total devastation. Kitchen and dining room lost under six feet of water. Appliances and heavy-duty kitchen equipment piled on top of each other, helter skelter. Beis Medrash soaked; steps to the just-renovated basement dormitory covered in water to the ground floor. Air conditioners strewn around; beds and mattresses, dressers and clothing all over the place. Massive heaps of waterlogged Sefarim adrift on the floor in the library. A thick film of slimy mud covering everything.
Week 2: Twelve days of round-the-clock pumping. Everything dumped in the garbage: boilers, water tanks, ovens, stoves, mattresses, refrigerators, clothing. Thousands of dollars’ worth of food alone. Carpets and flooring out on the streets. Basements gutted down to the bare cement floors. The Yeshiva squeezes into temporary quarters in Staten Island. Only 55 fit in the temporary dormitory; the other 65 must be bused in from their homes each day.
Week 3: Fundraising efforts around the clock. The administration looks peaked, but determined. We’re down, but not out. Come what may, we will rebuild.
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