An Update from Boulder

Posted on: Monday September 16, 2013

By Gerry Skolnik

Boulder and its immediate surrounding area have suffered tremendous flood damage over the past few days. It's barely a year since Sandy -- we have been here before, and we know how to respond.

We shall be coordinating our fundraising effort with the already existing Disaster Relief Fund at USCJ. You can donate online; alternatively, checks can be made out to the USCJ, with Disaster Relief/Boulder in the memo field, and all monies received in this way will go directly to the Boulder community. The USCJ is also involved in efforts to broaden the allowable uses of FEMA funds to include synagogues. We certainly support them in these efforts.

Our colleague, Marc Soloway, reports that there is enormous damage to the synagogue, much not covered by insurance, and also to private homes, his own included. His account follows below:

By Marc Soloway

A number of people have been asking about me and my kehillah here in Boulder and how we are faring. Truthfully, the situation is pretty grim, but plenty to feel grateful for also. My shul, Bonai Shalom, is very badly flooded as we sit next to South Boulder Creek, which burst its banks, and our basement/social hall area had 4-5 feet of water in there. The flood waters also washed away our beautiful sukkah. The offices and the sanctuary, thankfully, are unharmed, but the effects of the flooded basement with contaminated ground water will mean that we are unlikely to be able to use the building for a while. My house, which is next to the shul, is in a similar situation and I have been advised to evacuate as the smell from my flooded basement is likely to be pretty toxic. All the furniture and other stuff down there is ruined and the hard work of clearing it our starts today. I don't yet know where I am going to sleep or what I am going to do for Sukkot. 

All this said, I am one of the lucky ones. Many, many congregants and friends have lost way more and suffered much worse damage, with some still stranded in some areas and a few evacuated. It was a surreal, but very deep Yom Kippur. We held our services in the event center of Naropa University nearby. On Thursday and Friday morning it was looking like they were not going to let us hold our services, but close to noon, at the request of the president of the university, we were given the all clear and had all of services and programs. The atmosphere was intense and quite beautiful.

We have been identifying those who are relatively unaffected and those who need significant help, and have been setting up a volunteering network. I think many appreciated the power of being together in community on Yom Kippur and there were some very deep and moving moments throughout the day.

There are long days, weeks and months ahead for many people in the community and potentially still more to come.

Thanks for your concern and support.

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