Israeli disaster relief team flies in to support UK flood victims
RESIDENTS IN the flood-affected areas of Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Kirkgate in Leeds have been helped by an Israeli disaster relief charity, whose team flew in on Monday.
Four IsraAID volunteers are working to repair homes and distribute blankets and food in the worst hit areas.
Shachar Zahavi, IsraAID founding director, said: “Our volunteers are assisting with the current efforts and using our experience in such disasters to work out what more we can do.”
Team leader Navonel Glick said “people were shocked” when they realised the men were from Israel. “It was hard for them to process, because although other people had travelled from neigh- bouring towns to offer help, when the victims realised we had actually travelled from Israel they couldn’t believe it. Suddenly they started to grin from ear to ear and then the reaction was, ‘Wow! Really? From Israel. You truly came to help us from Israel?’”
The delegation have become heroes, with people pointing to them as they walk through the streets. Many have approached them to shake hands and express their gratitude.
The charity, which usually responds to disasters in developing countries, said it was not unusual to respond to floods of the scale that have hit parts of the UK.
Mr Zahavi said: “We have responded
to 10 floods and tornado disasters in the United States and when we saw what was happening to the UK it looked worse than ever before.
“We got in touch with Jewish communities around the north of England and local councils and arranged to send our team to help. We also have another team waiting to be sent from Israel.”
Mr Glick, IsraAID deputy director, said that the situation was worse than they had anticipated, especially around Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, where many homes were destroyed, and where the water line in some homes was up to the ceiling. It is the first time the organisation has responded to a disaster in the UK.
Leeds Lord Mayor Cllr Judith Chapman said: “This is an incredible initiative. I find it heartwarming to see that a delegation from Israel is prepared to drop everything in order to reach out to those in Yorkshire who have been affected. This humanitarian act puts everything into perspective andre stores one’s faith in mankind.”
IsraAID workers in Leeds this week