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‘When it rains it pours …’: Torrential rains cause Chabad House to flood for the second time this summer

Less than a week ago, Gan Chabad Preschool’s playground, damaged in the July 27 flood, was pristine and ready for school to start Aug. 21. This week it was damaged by flood waters again.

“The Lord said to Noah, there’s going to be a floody, floody.” What he didn’t say was that there will be two floods within a month.

Historic rains throughout the wee hours on Tuesday, Aug. 22, caused Indian Creek to overflow its banks for the second time in less than 26 days, subsequently flooding Chabad House Center in Overland Park. Chabad, located at 6201 Indian Creek Drive adjacent to Indian Creek, never had water inside the building prior to this year.

At about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Chabad of Leawood’s Esty Perman posted this comment on FB:

“When it rains it pours … unfortunately the Chabad House on Indian Creek flooded again last night. All of the new walls, floors carpeting and furniture is ruined, as 20-plus inches of water washed through the building. On the bright side, our dumpster hung around this time:).”

The entire first floor was damaged in the July 27 flood and again Tuesday. Almost everything except the carpet for the synagogue, which had not yet been installed because it was backordered, had been replaced and repaired in the past three and a half weeks. The preschool opened on Monday, a week later than scheduled, because of the first flood. Due to the newest flood, preschool was cancelled until new arrangements could be made for the students after just one day of classes.

“For 29 years nothing happens and suddenly twice in a month … it’s a little crazy,” Chabad Rabbi Mendy Wineberg said Tuesday.

When Rabbi Wineberg went to bed the night of the storm, the weather forecast didn’t worry him.

“I checked last night and they said 1 to 4 inches was expected,” he said. “I thought that’s OK, the creek can handle that much. It was only because we got 7 inches all at once that we had such a problem last time around.”

Tuesday morning, Rabbi Wineberg decided he should check on the building before he started his regular routine.

“When I got there about 7:30, to my utter dismay I saw what I saw.”

“The water was four times as high as it was last time (July 27). The water was at least 20 inches inside the building. We have a few storage pods outside the building and they got even more water, at least 3 feet of water,” he reported.

The storage pods contained items that were salvaged from the first flood and had not yet been returned to the building. 

“We had to clear out the Chabad House following the first flood in order to put in new flooring and everything else,” Rabbi Wineberg said.

The repair and restoration process began again on Tuesday.

“Now we will have to re-open up all the walls and do all that fun stuff again,” Rabbi Wineberg said, noting there was never a thought to scrap the facility.

“We the Jewish people have been through more trying times than this. Thank G-d nobody was hurt. It’s just stuff and we’ll rebuild it. After the last flood, it was bigger and better than before and it will be bigger and better than that now.”

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, Rabbi Wineberg said they were waiting to hear back from the insurance company to discuss the costs of the repairs.

“G-d willing we will have insurance.”

Besides the insurance company, the first thing on Rabbi Wineberg’s mind was taking care of the preschool kids.

“Parents are depending on us. Once that is done, then I’ll go back and start looking at everything we have to do at Chabad House.”

Congregation Beth Shalom assisted Gan Chabad Preschool last week, allowing Chabad to use two empty classrooms in its Rose Family Early Childhood Education Center. The space was used for families who needed Gan Chabad for daycare. Two rooms, however, will not take care of the entire Gan Chabad Preschool.

“K.I. has been very nice and has agreed to allow us to use four spare classrooms,” Rabbi Wineberg said. “We need to call the state and see if they can fast track something and get us licensed for that location.

“We’ll take care of the kids first and then we’ll get the rest done.”

Last time Chabad was able to get its facility back in useable shape within four weeks. The day of the flood, by the way, was exactly 30 days prior to Rosh Hashanah.

“It’s just too soon to even think about how long the restoration will take.”

As soon as Rabbi Wineberg discovered the flood damage, preschool parents were informed. People have been offering to help ever since.

“One parent said she was just heartsick. She said she feels bad, not so much for her kids, but all the work that went into getting Chabad repaired last time. That’s kind of the feeling at the moment,” Rabbi Wineberg said. In an update last week, he estimated more than 400 volunteer hours had been spent working on the facility.

Following the last flood, Rabbi Wineberg said the response from the Jewish community was the silver lining.

“Last time there was such an incredible outpouring of community support and I know this time there will be even more. We were able to get through that and we will get through this.”

Besides needing help to repair the building, the Yachad Jewish Community Food Pantry needs assistance as well. Last week Yachad announced it needed gift cards to give to clients while restorations were being complete and now that repairs will begin anew, this need will continue.

To donate to Chabad’s restoration effort, visit chabadkc.org/flood.