Vancouver’s Jewish federation launches fundraising appeal for flood relief in British Columbia

An appeal from Vancouver’s Jewish Federation for funds to help people affected by the unprecedented flooding and destruction in British Columbia has raised over $27,000 in the first 24 hours, and money has already been sent to hard-hit communities.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver launched the appeal Nov. 17, after British Columbia declared a state of emergency, CEO Ezra Shanken said in an interview with The CJN.

Southern B.C. has suffered severe flooding after a record-breaking rainfall forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. The rain has also triggered landslides that left hundreds of people stranded on highways and cut off rail routes.

Federation’s board started the appeal with a disbursement of $10,000 from its contingency fund, with the rest coming from private donations. The first cheques were being sent today, after a team consulted with other faith communities and first responders about where the money was most needed, Shanken said.

“We’re working hour by hour to decide where we want this first batch of money to go out to. We want to make sure it’s effective.”

Federation has also been in touch with about 84 families in Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack to see if they need assistance, he added.

“We’re right now trying to trying to assess the impact on individual Jewish families, that’s why we’re making these calls,” he said. “It’s just not clear, the government itself is in a search and rescue mode, not in a recovery mode.

“We want to make sure they know they’re not alone. Even if they’re not flooded out but they’re isolated, we want to make sure they’re getting what they need.”

Federation has also been in daily contact with the Jewish community in Kelowna, which is an evacuation point for many in the area, Shanken said.

“We’re hearing that it’s a challenging situation. Even the people who are closer to it are in this wait-and-see situation.”

Vancouver has not been affected by the situation, although the Jewish day school in Richmond had to close temporarily because of flooding.

One of the prime concerns right now is supplying food to affected areas and keeping food banks stocked, Shenken said.

Another concern is that Chanukah is coming in 10 days. “We want to make sure that people have a Chanukah filled with light and joy and warmth, not to be a wet, cold Chanukah.”

To donate to the fund, visit: www.jewishvancouver.com/bcflood.