(photo credit: Reuters)
NEW YORK – Communities along the eastern seaboard of the US braced on Thursday
for the expected arrival of Hurricane Irene.
The category 3 hurricane
that has pounded parts of the Caribbean with rain and winds of up to 210 km. an
hour was slowly advancing from the Bahamas in a northerly direction toward North
In Virginia, members of the Jewish community of Virginia Beach,
a coastal town located near the expected trajectory of the tempest, were
following developments closely.
“We’re worried but we hope for the best,”
said Rabbi Israel Zoberman of Congregation Beth Chaverim, which is located a few
blocks from the beach. “We have not been asked to evacuate although that could
happen as we are so close to the water.”
The Reform rabbi said he had
been through several hurricanes before and recalled the last one to hit Virginia
Beach decades ago.
“It was very scary,” he said. “The trees around
you start shaking, winds blow violently and there’s flooding
Michelle Aronoff, the office manager of Beth Israel
Congregation, an Orthodox shul in nearby Norfolk, Virginia, circulated an
advisory to its members about the coming storm.
“We’re monitoring the
situation, but we’re a bit further inland from Virginia Beach,” she said. “Right
now they’re following the path of the cone and there could be a 200-mile
difference. If this goes even 10 miles east that will make a big
Forecasters said Irene would gain strength over the Atlantic
and barrel its way along the East Coast, making landfall in New England over the
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday told press that
city hall was busy preparing for the possibility that Irene will hit the
“We don’t have enough information yet to make that call,” Bloomberg
said. “The timing is a bit up in the air, as it is with all these
things. Sometime on Friday, late in the day. How many depends on how
severe we think the storm is going to be.”
Meanwhile, coastal communities
in Florida and South Carolina let out a sigh of relief after hearing they would
be spared the worst of the storm, which curled northward.
“There was some
concern earlier in the week that the hurricane will hit us, but it turns out
that all signs indicate that it’s turning northward,” said Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum
of Charleston, South Carolina.
Still, he said local authorities in the
city that was badly hit by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 were not taking any
“From what I’ve been told is that it’s going to be shouted from
the rafters if we have to evacuate and go to shelters,” Rosenbaum said. “The
word travels quickly in Charleston.”
News of the expected hurricane came
a day after a rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake rattled the East Coast.
Pentagon and Capitol buildings in Washington were evacuated and two nuclear
reactors were taken out of commission as a safety precaution.
York, workers who felt the tremors evacuated high-rise buildings in the middle
of the day and spilled into the streets.
“I felt the tremors of the
earthquake, but to be honest it was much less rocky than a typical debate on the
floor of the Security Council,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said.