Israeli Aid Mission Heads to New York to Provide Hurricane Sandy Relief
by Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency
An Israeli delegation of trained rescue volunteers will depart to New York on Friday, November 9 to assist victims devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The delegation is headed by the Shahar Zahavi, the CEO of IsraAID, The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, an Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO) that has facilitated aid and relief program across the world, including in Haiti, Japan, Turkey, Kenya and South Sudan.
The 12-person delegation will be offering rescue, rehabilitation, and communal resource services to New York residents of Far Rockaway and Long Beach as well as the Atlantic City-Margate area of the Jersey Shore. They will also be identifying areas with vulnerable populations and allocating resources to older people and families with young children who have suffered significant damages to their homes and have no power.
Financing for the mission comes from young Israeli companies along with partner companies in the United States, which are supplying the Israeli crew with water, food, gasoline, clothing, blankets and storage facilities to distribute to people who have been evacuated from their homes.
According to spokesperson, Tova Hametz, the IsraAid delegation’s mission is to “rehabilitate, rescue, bolster morale and bring physical resources in the most effective, organized and expedient way.” She further added that Zahavi has much experience in relief work following his mission in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. “Shahar ran the show in Haiti so he knows how to do this.”
According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), a number of Israeli NGOs are working to bring relief and supplies to both victims and emergency workers in New York and New Jersey including food, fuel and generators. Among those NGOs are Israel Flying Aid and Israeli Humanitarian Aid-LATET. Those efforts have been coordinated with local police departments, the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Jewish communities in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
One of those Israeli volunteers, Joel Leyden helped to organize a food convoy from Connecticut to Long Island, bringing both food and generators to first responders, fire departments, police, and homes. He and other Israeli volunteers also passed out Dunkin’ Donuts to people waiting at gas stations.
“We wearing our blue-and-white-Israeli hats to make sure they knew this aid was coming from the people of Israel,” said Leyden according to the MFA website.
Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricanes and the second-costliest next to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The October 29 hurricane killed more than 110 people in 10 states, left more than 8 million homes and businesses in the Northeast without electricity, and tens of thousands of people homeless.