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September 7, 2016 3:23 pm

Israeli Aid Volunteer: Louisiana Flood Victims ‘Incredibly Grateful’ for Our Help (INTERVIEW)

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The IsraAID team in Louisiana. Photo: Elise Apap / IsraAID.

The IsraAID team in Louisiana. Photo: Elise Apap / IsraAID.

Louisianans affected by recent flooding are “incredibly grateful” for Israel’s role in recovery efforts, a volunteer with a humanitarian group told The Algemeiner.

“People here are so moved by the fact that we came all the way from Israel to help them,” said Talya Feldman, an IsraAID volunteer who is on the ground in Baton Rouge assisting in recovery efforts, after a devastating flash flood destroyed thousands of homes across the state. 

“Most people here have never met an Israeli before. It is a very powerful experience for many to see our huge team come in with shirts proudly displaying the Israeli flag,” she told The Algemeiner.

Feldman recounted entering the home of a woman, all of whose possessions were destroyed. The woman wept at the sight of the volunteers, and thanked “Jesus for sending someone from Israel to help me.”

The 10-man IsraAID team — which is partnering with the US-based group Team Rubicon — arrived in Louisiana on August 30 for a two-week mission. Feldman said it is the only foreign organization aiding in local recovery efforts. Over 109,000 people have been affected by the flood, which has caused an estimated $8.7 billion in damage.

According to Feldman, the IsraAID team had to wait for the flood waters — which reached great heights in some areas — to recede, before engaging in “muck and gut” efforts. 

The IsraAID team in Louisiana. Photo: Elise Apap / IsraAID.

The IsraAID team in Louisiana. Photo: Elise Apap / IsraAID.

“All the houses are now rotting,” she said. “When we reach a home identified as high-priority — such as one belonging to the elderly or to people without insurance — we first try to salvage as much as possible. Then we strip it down and spray for mold, allowing residents to begin reconstruction efforts more quickly and cheaply,” she told The Algemeiner.

Each such endeavor takes between one and two days to complete, she said, describing the overall situation as “somewhat eerie.”

“As you drive deeper into the city, you see massive piles of belongings everywhere,” she said. “Very personal items, like photo albums, are just sitting on the side of the road.”

Emotions on the ground, Feldman said, are a “mixed bag.” On the one hand, she said, “People are devastated because they have lost their most treasured possessions.” On the other hand, “It is absolutely amazing how positive they are, adopting a realistic attitude about their situation and grateful for all the help they can get.”

IsraAID is an Israel-based humanitarian aid agency that responds to emergency crises around the world and has responded to disasters in 35 countries over the last decade.

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  • Atti Cheron

    I listen to Israel, I learn a bit more every day. Very compassionate people, you have endeared you to me. Thank you from New Orleans, LA.

  • Jolie Harris

    Thank you. Thank you! Thank you!!! It means so much that someone from so far away cared enough to help. For those posting political things, the biggeat lesson I learned from Katrina is that politics are poison to a disaster. You are only filling your own needs by venting. This is a time about others with broken hearts that need to be healed. Please look to help however you can.

  • Myron Slater

    Do you think that any Arab country would send people to aid those in need?

    • Rachel

      During the Haiti earthquake, the Israeli rescue and recovery teams were the first international aid teams to establish a fully-functioning hospital and treat the injured and locate those still trapped under the rubble. The Palestinians sent woolen blankets (not much use for them in Haiti’s heat) and expired medicines and outdated food.


    It doesn’t stop the hatred. Only respect or fear does that and we have neither.

    • Diane B.

      Unfortunately, you are so right. The Jewish people and the State of Israel do everything to help everyone and they are still hated.


    What is your problem, Yaakov?
    Are you embarrassed by the fact that Israel is the the only foreign country to offer help to the poor souls who have had such a tragedy happen to them.
    Can we not show the world what real friends do for others?
    Get a life,pal!!!

  • Nancy B

    I am so grateful and proud of this team of IsraAid’s volunteers for helping these people in Louisiana. They are the finest of the fine!

  • It is wonderful that the Israelis came to help us. Why would you see it as pride? For some Israel can never do anything right!
    For me…..I love Israel and think just the opposite!
    I wonder if many are just plain jealous that Jewish people have been so successful in so many fields ie. medicine, inventions, etc.

    • Well said Audrey. Envy is so destructive isn’t it ?

  • Bob Houston

    Just another day of love and compassion. It’s the Jewish way.

  • Bro. Nick Nicholas

    I am a Biblical CHRISTian – and I am most thankful for the help of these folks from ISRAEL to those in need here in America
    – for they are another part of the ‘in process’ fulfilling the ‘millennias olde’ Biblical Prophesy:
    “Now the LORD had said unto Abram,
    Get thee out of thy country,
    and from thy kindred,
    and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
    And I will make of thee a great nation,
    and I will bless thee,
    and make thy name great;
    And I will bless them that bless thee,
    and curse him that curseth thee:
    (Genesis 12:1-3 ~ AV)

    ~ CAPITALization for emphasis of “the words of the Lord” are mine – Bro. Nick

  • Yaakov

    Here we go with the pride again.

    • Francis Figliola

      Give it a rest. They have reason to be proud! Where’s Obama?