A week after torrential rains flooded much of the tropical paradise in Koh Samui, Thailand, claiming dozens of lives in the countryside and causing extensive damage to the local Chabad House and attached kosher restaurant, preliminary assessments indicate that travelling Jewish backpackers have safely left the area.

Even in the midst of continuing rains, says Rabbi Yosef Kantor, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Thailand, plans are in place to rebuild and renovate.

“The water has receded somewhat,” reports Rabbi Chaim Eliezer Ashkenazi, who coordinates logistics for all of Thailand’s Chabad Houses and was among the first to touch down in Koh Samui after the local airport reopened.

“All the electrical equipment, all the computers, the furniture and books are ruined,” he continues. “Everything under shoulder level is gone.”

The waters claimed the ark housing the center’s Torah scrolls, but staff successfully removed the scrolls themselves.

“We need to replace everything,” adds Ashnkenazi. “I am racking my brain trying to figure out how to pay for everything.”

The rains claimed everything beneath shoulder level.
The rains claimed everything beneath shoulder level.

Chabad of Koh Samui directors Rabbi Menachem Mendel and Sara Hinda Goldshmid were out of the country when the rains began.

Ashkenazi places initial estimates of the damage at about $70,000. He says that funds can be earmarked for the renovations through Chabad-Lubavitch of Thailand’s website.

Kantor, who after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, spearheaded the Chabad Tsunami Relief effort, says the Chabad House will open its doors once again.

“We are doing everything we can to reopen the Chabad House as soon as possible,” he says.