New York – As residents of Seagate struggle to cope with the aftermath of last week’s hurricane, the waterfront community’s most well known resident is appealing for help in the face of the utter devastation and destruction that struck the private gated community that is home to 250 Jewish families.
In a sixteen minute video, Mordechai Ben David displays the remnants of his famed recording studio, which was completely destroyed by the floodwaters that inundated the basement of his beachfront Oceanview Avenue home. The entire basement and its contents, including the walls, floors, ceilings, ruined equipment and thousands of CDs are a total loss.
Yitz Engel walked with Mordechai Ben David through the ravaged streets of Seagate and he showed some of the hardest hit areas.
In the video, MBD clutches a flashlight and a waterline, several feet off the ground, shows the level to which the water rose during the storm. The walls of the studio, decorated with pictures and other paraphernalia, include photographs of many prominent Rebbes, including the Ribnitzer Rebbe and the kever of the Baal Shem Tov. Incredibly, the water line stops just below the many pictures of the Rabbonim.
According to MBD, everyone in Seagate had a minimum of four to five feet of water in their basements and as he conducts a video tour of the peninsula community, the damage to the area is nothing short of catastrophic. Making matters worse is the fact that insurance companies do not provide coverage in the area for any property located below street level.
MBD praised Simcha Felder for providing Seagate with a truck from Borough Park Shomrim, which provides the only electrical source and operational phone line in the area and is set up with a charging station outside for residents to plug in cell phones as well as providing food and drink to all area residents. The command center is staffed round the clock, taking calls from storm-weary residents, providing volunteers to help pump basements and provide other aid to the locals.
For Seagate residents, the process of rebuilding their lives will be long and costly, and neither FEMA nor insurance companies are expected to come through with desperately needed funding for months.
A fund has been set up to provide financial assistance to Seagate residents, who need everything from the most basic items, including clothing and food, to assistance paying for boilers and repairs to their homes. According to BSSP volunteer Chuny Dembitzer, only two to five percent of Seagate residents have flood insurance.
“We cannot actually believe we are in America,” said Seagate resident Shmilu Follman, coordinator of Borough Park Shomrim. “It looks like a third world country.”
To make a donation to the Seagate Hurricane Emergency Fund, which is being administered by Rabbi Pinchos Meisels, Dayan of Seagate, go to sgsandy.com.
VIN News, photographer Eli Wohl visiting Sea Gate On Nov 1 2012