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Israel sends help to Irma-hit Florida

Israel has sent teams of aid workers to southern Florida to help local communities, including Jewish residents, deal with the shock and aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

On Saturday the Israel Rescue Coalition, a humanitarian aid group of rescue squads, and United Hatzalah, a volunteer organization that provides emergency medical services, dispatched search and rescue volunteers as well as divers, medical workers, psycho-trauma responders and natural disaster experts.

Similar teams had been sent to Texas to help after Hurricane Harvey pummeled Houston and the city’s suburbs just a few weeks ago.

In Miami the Israeli Zaka search and rescue group have set up two command centers from which volunteers could go out to find and assist those in need. Meanwhile, teams from IsraAID will help with the massive task of cleaning up in the storm’s aftermath.

The Israeli teams are tasked to help the general population plus Florida’s Jewish community of 650,000, many of whom evacuated after Florida Gov. Rick Scott said residents should leave before the storm hit. FEMA told locals who remained that they would be “on their own” until their teams could reach them.

FEMA and other American based rescue teams will be bolstered by teams such as these from Israel.

“Our job as volunteers will be to help the community and deal with the situation as best we can in the absence of American officials, until they arrive,” Moti Elmaliah, a spokesman for the IRC, told Ynet News. “We will take care to organize residents’ committees to deal with the issues that arise from Hurricane Irma.”

Karen Faulkner
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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