TEL AVIV – Israeli NGO IsraAid is sending a humanitarian delegation to Louisiana to assist flood victims in salvaging their property, return to their homes, and begin the process of rehabilitation.
The eight-person highly trained delegation will be led by Naama Gorodischer, IsraAid’s global programs director.
“We’ve been following how the storm and flooding have been developing over the last few days.” Naama said. “With the help of our local partners, we’ve been able to get a good situation report on the extent of the damage, and the urgent need for assistance and rehabilitation.”
“Our team will arrive in the field at the exact time that the water levels are expected to lower, which will enable us to start working immediately,” she continued.
So far, the floods have claimed the lives of more than 13 people and have affected 60,000 homes in the state, making it the worst natural disaster to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. IsraAid also helped victims of Sandy and five other disasters in the U.S., including Hurricane Katrina and last year’s Washington State wildfires.
The delegation comes on the heels of visits by President Barack Obama and presidential nominee Donald Trump, who volunteered with a Louisiana aid organization.
Other U.S.-based Jewish groups joined in the relief effort, including a group of 15 volunteers from the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, who partnered with a Jewish organization, Nechama, which provides response and recovery services all over the country.
Around 30 Jewish households sustained damage from the floods, according to the Federation.
Tana Velen, who led the Federation’s relief efforts, told the Jerusalem Post that even though seeing the damage was challenging emotionally, people maintained positive attitudes when rummaging through the debris in hope of salvaging their valuables.
“Even the homeowners, you could tell that they were battling emotions between utter sorrow after losing their whole lives, and then the gratitude they felt for having the volunteers there. It was a very intense day,” she said.
Velen added that she and her fellow volunteers felt bound by a sense of duty to help out where they could.
“The whole [idea of] reaching out and helping the other is a fundamental value of Judaism,” she said.
“It’s so intrinsic in Jewish values to want to reach out and help people in need when they’re suffering.”