At Least SOMEBODY is helping the victims of hurricane Sandy. To Obama, it was a campaign photo op,and empty promises of “We are here for you.” To Israel, an opportunity to help.
According to IsraAID’s founding director, Shachar Zahavi, IsraAID, which has operated in Haiti, Japan and South Sudan, is working on the ground in the most impoverished and devastated areas of the United States, helping out the neediest Hurricane Sandy victims. Most of their tasks include delivering food, removing debris, and helping people to restore their homes. However, one of the biggest issues that he is up against is that many of the Americans that he is helping are very poor and thus lack the proper insurance to fix the damage. IsraAID is presently trying to find a solution to this problem.
In the United States, the situation remains dire. In Breezy Point, New York, for instance, many family homes still are encircled by canals of flood water, possess stairwells that are on the verge of collapsing, and debris can be found every where. Many residents of such distressed communities walk around clutching what remains of their lives in black trash bags, amidst the bitter cold. They live in ship-wrecked homes, without electricity, heat and running water. Until fairly recently, manpower to help such distraught areas was in short supply.
However, the situation improved when IsraAID entered the scene. An IsraAID team led by Voni Glick has been working with local American organizations and the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto to address the damage caused by the 6 to 8 feet surge of flood water that has yet to completely recede in Breezy Point, New York. Glick told the Jerusalem Post, “People don’t understand the extent of what happened here. It’s important that there be an Israeli response to events like this.” So far, IsraAID has had a tremendous impact in Breezy Point.
One volunteer with IsraAID reported, “A jolly woman in a blue NYPD pullover and curly white hair, came to greet us and simply could not believe our team had travelled from Israel to be there. She gave each of us a huge, motherly hug.” This woman, Mrs. Vogel, is an artist whose home completely submerged in water. According to this volunteer, “her lovingly-designed canvas paintings and hand-written poems lay drenched, scattered about the lounge and study: intricate landscapes, abstract arrangements of color, the intricately trailed lines of flowers and fruits suspended on white space.” IsraAID helped her throw away what remained.
IsraAID also assisted a woman named Elle Healy, who dislocated her hip in the midst of the Hurricane Sandy storm and thus was physically unable to clean up her flooded basement. IsraAID took over the task for her, so that she could rest. In another instance, IsraAID helped a family clear out their yard, which was full of children’s toys, deflated balls, and pulpy books that were washed over there by the storm. Nathan Lyons, another IsraAID volunteer, noted, “You’d expect in a place like New York that these victims would be saturated with help. But what we are doing is moving people to tears.”