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IsraAID Reaching Out to Help New York residents on the Road to Recovery

Arrival of Humanitarian Organization comes at an opportune time

By: Daniel Horowitz
Published: November 12th, 2012 in News » World

To see parts of New York under water, senior citizens carefully navigating makeshift walkways constructed from cracked doors and pieces of driftwood as they clutch their worldly possessions in a garbage bag may sound like the plot of a summer blockbuster.

But, for the 4,000 residents of Breezy Point, NY, it’s an all-too-real scenario.

Fortunately for those residents, members of an IsraAID response team arrived in New York this week to join forces, and share its expertise in dealing with natural disasters, with local organizations to properly assess the full extent of the damage caused by the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, which hit landfall on October 29th.

Sponsored by its long-time partner and IsraAID’s largest financial supporter, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the team of Israeli experts immediately went to work in coordinating and expediting the gutting, clearing, and cleaning of destroyed homes. While providing relief to the many still stranded with little or nothing.

Founded in 2001, IsraAID is a consortium of Israeli organizations that offers humanitarian aid in different areas, and which sent teams of specialists to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 tsunami in Southeast Asia, the January, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the 2011 earthquake that devastated Japan, and many other natural disasters.

Although Hurricane Sandy struck on October 29, for the residents of this normally picturesque town, it might as well have been yesterday.

Canals of flood water pool around family's homes with crumbling stairwell and walkways sunk amidst debris and rubble. Homes with their awnings knocked off, strewn dozens of feet away are left even more vulnerable to further impending damage from inclement weather.

Locating the most vulnerable and figuring out what they need, then how to get it to them were the first steps the IsraAID team took on.

IsraAID’s arrival came at an opportune time, when manpower is in short supply as many of the volunteers were forced to give up their efforts and return to their jobs elsewhere.

The IsraAID team, led by Voni Glick, joined full force with local organizations in efforts to deal with the damage caused by the 6 to 8 feet surge that smashed through this little peninsula, and has yet to completely recede.

With incredible support by the local Jewish community of Merrick, the team is now urgently recruiting as many additional work teams as possible from Israel and the Jewish world to participate in addressing the overwhelming needs of Breezy Point as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Plans are also being made to help those in neighboring Far Rockaway, an impoverished area where looting has been widespread, leading shops to place sign in their windows, on which and spray paint messages read “already been looted, nothing left to take”.

In this landscape of towering project buildings, the lack of power for elevators has made access a major challenge, as thousands of elderly and physically challenged citizens have been virtually cut off from food and water distributions. IsraAID is currently in discussions with local stakeholders to coordinate support projects in the coming days.

“We’re proud to partner with IsraAid as they provide a shining example of Israeli know-how, courage and compassion to help the people in the Northeast United States - whose lives were turned upside down by Hurricane Sandy - regain some peace of mind,” said Ted Sokolsky, President & CEO, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. “Our long-standing relationship with IsraAID has allowed Toronto’s Jewish community to play a hands-on role whenever tragedy strikes around the world.”

Related articles: IsraAID, New York, Recovery, Hurricane Sandy, Superstorm, Storm, Damage, Humanitarian, Help, Aid
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