The Storm After the Calm

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Creative Commons
04 Feb 2016
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Snow at O’Hare/Creative Commons

In its seventh season of competition, the Orthodox Union’s Team Yachad faced a new challenge:  how to return to New York when a historic blizzard shut down the airport and the roads.

 Many of the advisors had to resume college classes, so the thought of an extended stay in Florida, while appealing, was impossible.

 Already in Miami to prep for the race, Yachad Associate Director Eli Hagler and his dedicated staff monitored the snowy situation from down south and wasted no time in finding their way out of a logistical nightmare.

 Says Eli: “We were aware of what was going on over Shabbos up north and Yachad staffers were up all night (quite literally) Saturday night. 

12615620_945472858875335_8934725757283830018_oOnce flights were cancelled, we felt we had to do a few things right away:

 We informed emergency contacts of each runner that we were monitoring the weather with our travel agent and the airlines as of Thursday night.  I sent updates on Thursday night, Friday morning and Friday afternoon that flights were still on.

Another update went out Saturday night that most Sunday and Monday flights to the northeast had been cancelled, and we were working on arrangements but the most important thing at the time was to allow the runners to enjoy their race and not worry about travel/weather. 

On motzei Shabbat we got our hotel to extend the stays of some runners and staff and we arranged catered meals through Tuesday lunch.  Both hotel (Deauville Beach Resort) and caterer (Five Star Caterers of New Jersey) were amazingly calm, accommodating and understanding. 

11251269_945474858875135_633137363758769001_oOn Sunday morning at about 4am I chartered a bus to drive from Miami Beach to NY/NJ Sunday night.  Our travel agent was advising us that airports would remain closed until Monday at noon. If this was the case, it would be very unlikely that we would be able to get everyone onto flights on Monday or even Tuesday. If anyone needed to get back for either class, work or because they had other children at home, we thought it very important to have a way to do that.  We had about 30 people on the bus that left Sunday night at 9pm and arrived in Teaneck shortly before 9pm on Monday night.   

Ultimately, with the help of our travel agent (Murray’s Travel of St. Louis , everyone not on the bus had their flights rebooked. 

By Wednesday night, we had succeeded in getting everyone safely home — no small miracle.  Here’s hoping for clear skies in 2017!”

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.