By COLlive reporter
More than 2 million people were told to evacuate, while airline, rail and transit systems in New York and other cities have been shut down over Shabbos as Hurricane Irene hit the U.S. east coast.
Authorities have issued hurricane watches and declared states of emergency for Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New England, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.
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Council Member Al Vann said none of the 36th Council District is considered low lying, so there is no mandatory evacuation for residents of the district which includes Bed-Stuy and northern Crown Heights.
Subways were not expected to resume until Monday, Reuters reports.
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Airlines canceled more than 9,000 flights for the weekend and another 250 on Monday, according to the online flight tracking service Flightaware.com.
The Northeast is the most congested area of U.S. air space, with JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York and Newark airport in New Jersey handling nearly 100 million domestic and international passengers annually.
The New York-area airports closed at noon EDT for arrivals and the last departures were expected during the evening. Those airports would then be fully closed and would reopen as post-storm conditions permitted, officials said.
Heavy rain that came down most of Shabbos day in Crown Heights did not stop Jewish residents from filling up the local shuls and rushing through the streets for Shabbos meals and family simches.
Notably missing were many families who remained in Upstate New York, spending Shabbos – and possibly the coming days – in their bungalow colonies.
On Kingston Avenue, a dark-colored vehicle was spotted on the side of the street that was secured with cardboard, straw wire and blue packing tape.
At the ‘ufruf’ kiddushim held in the main shul in 770 Eastern Parkway, some chassanim who are scheduled to marry early this week expressed fear over travel disruptions.
COLlive.com was told that families rented cars to make it to weddings planned for early this week in both the U.S. and Canada. They were said to leave on Motzoei Shabbos from New York, instead of on their cancelled flights.
Photographer Israel Bardugo who was meant to shoot a wedding in the U.S. on Tuesday had his flight from Tel Aviv cancelled.
Many are preparing for days of hurricane-force winds, rain, power cuts and disruption in its wake.
A volunteer of Hatzalah Crown Heights told COLlive.com there were no storm related emergencies over Shabbos.
He said that the medical service organization is prepared for several scenarios, including power outage.
“If there is an emergency, do not hesitate to call,” he said. Their number is 718-230-1000.
SCHOOLS & STORES
Kol Tuv Grocery on 409 Kingston Avenue (corner of Montgomery street) will be open as usual: Motzoei Shabbos until 12am and Sunday from 9am until 12am.
Kahan’s Superette on 317 Kingston Avenue (corner of Union Street) will be open Sunday from 8am to 6pm depending on conditions.
Rabbi Elchonon Lesches, Dean of Beis Medrash Oholei Torah Zal in Crown Heights, told COLlive.com that learning scheduled to resume on Sunday morning has not been affected.
“We have 150 bochurim who are already in our dorm on Eastern Parkway and for them it will be a 30 second walk to the Zal for regular seder,” he said in a phone conversation on Motzoei Shabbos.
“I told out of towners and those in the country not to come in, but bochurim who are living in Crown Heights should use their common sense whether it is safe to come,” Rabbi Lesches said.
Oholei Torah Mesivta will be opening on Monday at 10:30 am instead of the regular 7:30 am.
Sunday’s “Guns, Halacha and the Constitution” seminar at a 935 Eastern Parkway Shul has been cancelled.
Facebook has been particularly active with status updates revealing how the storm is affecting people’s day to day lives – some even using humor.
One line that has been going around reads:
“As Hurricane Irene prepares to batter the East Coast, federal disaster officials warn that Internet outages could force people to interact with other people for the first time in years. Residents are bracing themselves for the horror of awkward silences and unwanted eye contact.”