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Jewish Camps Are Sheltering Houston Evacuees

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Department of Defense

The cheer of summer camp is back in session for Houston’s flood evacuees, who need a place to stay and a welcome (and maybe some bug juice and hacky sack, too).

“I want to keep the families in high hopes, knowing that they’re going to go back to Houston and [have to] figure things out,” said Lauren Laderman, a unit head at Camp Young Judaea-Texas, told JTA. “But we can give them a few days of relaxation knowing they’ll have somewhere to sleep and good food.”

JTA’s Ben Sales reported that “ten families are expected to arrive starting Tuesday, and more are anticipated once families are able to leave the flooded city, where the roads are closed.”

“We don’t have a lot of money but we have a great staff, so we said, ‘Let’s open it up,’” camp director Frank Silberlicht told JTA. He himself had to evacuate his home in Houston.

Young Judea Camp, where Laderman and Silberlicht work, is several hours away from Houston, and they’ve prepped to house and feed families, open a small business center, and provide traditional camp activities including a ropes course and food over the course of the coming days.

Other camps are providing mini-camp experiences for kids whose parents will be busy dealing with the aftermath of the storm, as well as food and shelter for the community. It’s nice to think of the goodwill of camp staffs being used to this effect, but also a little bit sad.

Because the scary stories from Houston continue to be told–including some near-escapes by families.

The AP has a first person story from mom Ramit Plushnick-Mastiwho described the final moments before they left their water-filled home. She had to leave with her three sons by boat caravan.

“The boys grabbed some clothes and we put everything in garbage bags. At 2 p.m. a boat arranged by the rabbi arrived. The water in our house was waist high. We needed to get out from the laundry room. The washing machine had turned on its side in the water, and so had the stand-up freezer. We climbed over it and out into the driveway.

The water outside was over my head and I had to swim. On the boat were several other families, including two elderly people, a 6-month old baby and two dogs. As we made our way toward the local church that had become a shelter, the boat’s propeller hit the ground and we all got off.

Wading through knee-high water, with white plastic garbage bags full of clothing and laptops on our shoulders, we made our way toward the church, which had no power. There were at least 100 people there and no cots, but it was dry, and we made it our home for the night.

We made a ravioli dinner, using a flashlight to see, and we slept on the floor. But we knew we were lucky. Others had water in their homes over their heads and had broken through their roofs to get out. Elderly people did not have their medicine. Everything we lost is material. We will rebuild, and our family is whole.”

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