Hurricane Irene claims life of a Survivor
Hurricane Irene whipped through the East Coast of the U.S. last week, claiming the lives of a reported 43 victims and devastating communities in its wake. Expected to become one of the 10 costliest natural disasters in the nation’s history, Irene caused catastrophic flooding in Vermont and New York and left hundreds of thousands of people – including the majority of Connecticut – without electricity.
Among Irene’s victims was Rozalia “Leah” Stern-Gluck, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor vacationing in the Catskills during the storm. Stern-Gluck joins the likes of Liviu Librescu, the Romanian-Israeli-American professor who died in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech and Rabbi Moshe Adler, who was killed when a car struck him as he crossed the street. Like Stern-Gluck, both men met tragic and untimely deaths after surviving the Holocaust and settling in the U.S.
New York State Police say Stern-Gluck, a Brooklyn grandmother, drowned in the more than six feet of water that flooded the cottage where she was staying with her husband. She yelled for help as the water rushed in from a nearby creek, but rescue workers were unable to reach her in time. Fortunately, her husband escaped unharmed.
A neighbor described the Russian-born Stern-Gluck as “a righteous woman,” but so far, there’s not much additional information available online about what kind of woman Stern-Gluck was or what her story may have been. Isaac Abraham, a Chasidic leader in Brooklyn, told the New York Daily News, "She survived Hitler, but she couldn't survive Irene.”
Other victims of the storm included: Jose Sierra, a New York father of 13, 20-year-old Ivana Taseva, a visiting worker from Macedonia working at a Vermont ski resort; North Carolina resident Tim Avery, who was crushed by a tree that fell onto his home as he watched TV; and David Reichenberg, who was electrocuted after rescuing a man and his son from downed power lines. The death toll currently stands at 43, though news reports continue to emerge as clean-up efforts persist.
As we say in the Jewish tradition, zichronam livracha – may all of the victims’ names be for a blessing.