5. If someone sees a power line fall and it poses a danger can one contact the authorities?
A person should never venture out during or right after a hurricane. Coming in contact with downed power lines could be fatal. Unless the power line could cause a serious danger to the people in the home, one should wait until after Shabbos to report it.
The problem, of course, is that you never know who else might wander over, make contact with the power line, and die.
That means all downed power lines should be considered threats to life and should be immediately reported.
According to VIN, a man was killed in Spring Valley today, his son a boy very critically injured, and the boy's father burned by a downed power line. The child apparently came into contact with the power line and his father tried to save him and was killed trying.
Whether they ventured outside to go to shul or yeshiva (which would appear to be forbidden according to Agudah's instructions) and the line fell on the boy, or whether the boy didn't see the downed line and came into contact with it, here's more proof that human life must take precedence over Shabbat halakha, communal prayer, and other Jewish law.
Sadly, I'm hearing that some hasidic schools/camps in Spring Valley and surrounding areas opened today, despite police warnings to stay inside and to keep schools and other similar institutions closed – which could explain why the child was outside.
A hurricane is dangerous even after it has passed, and a downed power line is always a threat to life and should be treated as such, no matter what rabbis might tell you to the contrary.
There is no safe way for civilians to guard access to a downed power line, and every moment a live power line is down, it poses a real and present danger to life.
And as hasidim in Spring Valley seemed to have learned today, their rabbis who disregarded police and public safety warnings do not know what they are doing.
Update 3:50 pm CDT – VIN updated its post. It was a passerby who was killed trying to save the boy, who is in extremely critical condition. The boy's father was treated for burns and released from the hospital.
The boy got tangled in live power lines obscured by floodwaters on a Spring Valley street.
Update 7:10 pm CDT – The Journal News reports:
A man was electrocuted today when he tried to save a 5-year-old Spring Valley boy who grabbed a live electrical wire on his flooded street and suffered critical burns during the onslaught of Tropical Storm Irene, authorities said.
David M. Reichenberg, 50, a father of four, was buried tonight at a Route 306 cemetery, following the tenets of Orthodox Judaism for a quick burial.
The injured boy, Reuven Herbst, remained in critical condition at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. His father, who also was burned by the wire when he joined in the rescue, was treated at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern and released.
The incident occurred at Merrick Drive and Union Road after the wire was knocked down from the winds generated by Irene. Hatzoloh Ambulance Corps responded.…