Sukkot is less than twenty-four hours away and we’ve barely had a moment to think about it. The needs of the community have been so enormous that we could use a thousand volunteers, and even then I’m not sure we’d be able to get to everyone. Today, in addition to the numerous phone calls and emails for help, we received several calls for assistance from the Flatlands, which is approximately two miles from downtown Boulder. Soon after, the people called back to say that there was no road and we wouldn’t be able to get to them. For now, their needs are on hold.
We are working non-stop. Thanks to the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, we have been able to purchase boots, gloves, and masks to protect our volunteers. We’ve also used Federation funds to purchase fans, pumps, and humidifiers. This morning we received a call from the owner of the only store in Boulder with dehumidifiers. He had heard of our relief efforts and wanted to give us the opportunity to purchase them first. We bought all of them—a grand total of three—not nearly enough to fill the over sixty requests we’ve received for them. Forty fans were distributed, but we need many more.
Volunteers have come from all over the area and from out-of-state. One was an Arizonian mother visiting her college student. She spent the day aiding the elderly. We had a fabulous crew of students from ΑΕPI, which gave a boost to our numbers. We’re deeply grateful for their time and hard work.
When it comes to helping others, there isn’t much our volunteers aren’t doing. From knocking out drywall, hauling furniture and waterlogged items, bringing supplies, to pumping, mopping, and cleaning, our crew is doing it all and helping as many as we can. We’ve assisted long-time Boulder resident Reb Zalman Schechter save his library.
Time after time, students who have spent a long, tiring day volunteering have contacted me to say, “Rabbi, thank you for giving me this opportunity to help.” Their words inspire and fuel our efforts.
Our mailbox has been filled with touching thank yous, including this one:
I’m rarely lost for words, but I can’t find enough wonderful things about how you have set up and mobilized students to help in this emergency. It’s hard to explain unless you experience it, but with each day since the flood, exhaustion takes over – I think this happens to everyone – so I know I speak for many in this regard. The helpers you sent picked up our spirits and of course the work they did made me feel we were making more progress and will be able to move on to the next phase of things to come.
From all across the United States, people have been contacting us to ask how they may help. We are in desperate need of dehumidifiers, fans, pumps, and many other supplies. One simple suggestion would be to send gift cards for Loews, Home Depot, or local supermarkets. In the next couple of days we will put up a form on our website: www.jewishfloodrelief.com where you can enter supplies you have to offer, which we will then match to those who need them.
And of course, we still need busloads of volunteers.
With deep gratitude,
Rabbi Yisroel Wilhelm
This post is from Rabbi Wilhelm’s “Relief Blog.”