Brisbane: Early morning report

January 13, 2011 by Henry Benjamin
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J-Wire spoke with Ari Haber from Community Services Queensland shortly after the Brisbane River peaked at 4 a.m.

Ari Haber (left) with Jewish House CEO Rabbi Mendel Kastel

JW:   Ari, what is the latest news from Brisbane?

AH:   It is heartening to hear that the Brisbane River will now peak under the 1974 level. The synagogue should be OK.

JW: How many Jews live in South East Queensland?

AH:   Well, the official census puts the number around 3,000. But not everyone answers the census. We think it is close to 10,000.

JW:    Are any unaccounted for?

AH:   Interesting question. We have many we cannot account for. But that does not mean they are unaccountable. It simply means that they have been taken into other homes and we don’t know which ones.

Many will be staying with relatives. We are not aware of anyone being positively missing.

JW:   Is contact difficult?

AH:    Yes. WIth power down in many areas, mobile phones cannot be recharged. We will be relying heavily on the grapevine.

JW:    When the waters recede, will you need volunteers from around the country to help with the clean up?

AH:    Not at this stage. The community haas already established a register for volunteers and we should be able to deal with this within the community.

JW:    How are the children coping?

AH:    Many had left the city beforehand to attend the Maccabi Junior Carnival. But so far, we have no problems outside the obvious ones.

JW:   We understand you also have responsibility for the NSW Northern Rivers area. Are there any problems there?

AH:    I have been in touch with the Rainbow Kehillah at Byron Bay and others. All seems OK. Grafton is under water and I know of two Jewish prisoners in prison there…but I am sure the authorities have that under control

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