On Friday night the congregants of Stanmore and Canons Park United shul went home with their spirits high after a Shabbat dinner with the Chief Rabbi. But within 24 hours the feelgood factor had completely disappeared — after major flooding caused by an overflowing drain.
So bad was the damage that Shabbat services cannot be held there until further notice. The carpet in the men’s section was saturated and the woodwork — including smart new pews — was covered in pools of water.
The flood was discovered last Saturday night and an army of volunteers were recruited to begin the clean-up, the earliest arriving before 7am on Sunday.
Working throughout the morning, they managed to achieve a significant reduction in residual water.
When United Synagogue chief executive Steven Wilson stopped by to inspect the damage, the carpet was wet but not sodden, and hundreds of towels used in the clean-up were hanging out to dry over chairs in front of the building.
One volunteer suggested: “The colourful display must have had some of our non-Jewish neighbours speculating which festival we were celebrating.”
An online rota brought in a further 20 volunteers,who took turns in using the machines to soak up remaining moisture. They were sustained by leftovers from the the Friday-night dinner. Close by, some 70 older members of the community were enjoying their annual Stanmore Seniors’ lunch in the shul’s community centre.
At the congregation’s AGM on Tuesday, it was decided to move Shabbat services to the adjoining Freeman-Sussman hall. It is unclear whether the carpets and floor of the shul will need to be lifted. If so, the disruption will be extended at a time when a number of barmitzvahs are scheduled.