Fears for synagogue as residents evacuate flooded homes

By Daniel Easterman, February 13, 2014
The rising Thames has prompted fears for Maidenhead Synagogue (Photo: AP)

The rising Thames has prompted fears for Maidenhead Synagogue (Photo: AP)

A rabbi of a synagogue in the Thames Valley described this week how his congregants have been forced to abandon their homes as a result of the severe flooding in the area.

Rabbi Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead shul, said a young family in the village of Wargrave, in Berkshire, had moved out after water from the nearby Thames inundated their house.

“The building was on stilts, as a lot of them are by the river,” said Rabbi Romain.

“But the water still came right up to the front door. They had to leave — it was a major operation for them, with two young children.”

Another family who live in the neighbouring village of Hurley had returned from holiday to their home flooded.

“The husband said he felt like Noah,” said the rabbi.

“He and his wife have had to grab as many belongings as they can and book into a local hotel.”

Rabbi Romain said the families were afraid looters might target their properties. “This is very distressing,” he said.

“Not knowing what state your house is going to be in or whether the insurance will cover it properly. It is very traumatic.”

He added that Maidenhead Synagogue was on standby to be used as “emergency accommodation” for displaced residents.

“We’ve got sleeping bags and a couple of bunk beds which we’ve brought in. It’s a big synagogue, so people can come and sleep overnight,” he said.

But he admitted that the shul itself could be threatened if the weather was to worsen over the coming days.

“The synagogue is on the flood plain. We are about 150 metres from the river. There is a high wall on the banks of the river. But we are right on the brink at the moment.”

Last updated: 9:56am, February 13 2014