Avi Lewinson, back on Tuesday from surveying the storm’s detritus at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, strove for some rueful humor. One good thing about Saturday’s storm, the JCC’s executive director told The Jewish Standard, was that “it forces you to purge right before Pesach.”
But he quickly turned serious, noting that eight people had been killed during the punishing wind and rainstorm, two of them from Teaneck. (See related story.) He did not know the area men personally, he added, “but we’re all brothers. One Jew for another.”
The JCC was up and running on Thursday, but the epic storm required an epic cleanup.
“The winds were so great,” Lewinson said, “and there’s a lot of water damage. My office is under plastic.”
On Sunday morning, the police called an emergency cell phone number – the regular phones were down, like so many in the storm-struck region – “to say that a tree from the property was blocking Clinton Avenue – this was separate from some trees blocking our own driveway.”
The power came back on about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon and the entire maintenance staff – about 10 workers – came in.
On Thursday, a jubilant Lewinson reported that the JCC was back in business – all but the pools. The pump of the training pool had burned out, and while the large pool had been heated and “shocked” to get chlorine levels back up, it was awaiting testing by the state – “and then we can let people swim.”
“People are showing up,” he said. “When you don’t have electricity in you own home, you’re looking to shower and change and relax,” and the JCC can be a resource.
They showed up even when the JCC was closed. “They had cabin fever and wanted to be able to do something,” he said.
Barricades had been set up in front and security police waved people away. “There was constant traffic from people wanting to use our center. It really hit home how much we are part of the community just to watch the number of people being waved off.”
The two area Ys fared much better.
“We didn’t really have many problems,” said Harold Benus, executive director of the YJCC of Bergen County in Washington Township. “We were closed for a few hours due to a lack of water pressure Monday – we had a delayed opening till 10 o’clock. Other than that, we were perfectly fine.”
Steve Allen, executive director of the YM-YWHA of North Jersey in Wayne, said that despite the fact that much of the township experienced flooding, “The Y was not affected in any way. We were open at regular hours, had a children’s show – ‘Aladdin’ on Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon it was sold out…. We were blessed.”