Is­raeli Res­cue Teams De­part for South Florida

The Jewish Voice - - ISRAEL -

Is­raeli res­cue teams de­parted Satur­day night for Mi­ami ahead of Hur­ri­cane Irma, which be­gan rav­aging south Florida on Sun­day morn­ing (lo­cal time).

The mis­sion, or­ga­nized by the Is­rael Res­cue Coali­tion (IRC), an um­brella group of res­cue groups that in­cludes United Hatza­lah. The Coali­tion, which sent a psy­cho trauma cri­sis and re­sponse unit to Hous­ton, Texas last month, said in a re­lease that vol­un­teers would ad­min­is­ter first aid and as­sist Jewish com­mu­ni­ties in the af­ter­math of the storm.

“Our job as vol­un­teers will be to help the com­mu­nity and to deal with the sit­u­a­tion as best we can in the ab­sence of Amer­i­can of­fi­cials, un­til they ar­rive, said Moti El­maliah, a spokesman for the IRC. “We will take care to or­ga­nize res­i­dents' com­mit­tees to deal with the is­sues that arise from Hur­ri­cane Irma, which has been clas­si­fied as the most pow­er­ful storm ever to hit the At­lantic Ocean.”

Some 650,000 Jews live in Florida, the third largest Jewish com­mu­nity in the United States. But ahead of the storm, many had left town as South Florida be­came a vir­tual ghost town. Drone footage of the city's down­town area and Mi­ami Beach tourist Mecca showed empty streets and beaches. In to­tal, nearly 7 mil­lion peo­ple were or­dered to evac­u­ate, and lo­cal and fed­eral of­fi­cials warned that res­i­dents who re­fused to leave their homes would “be on their own” in what the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter called a “life-threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion.”

“This is a deadly storm, and our state has never seen any­thing like it,” said Gover­nor Rick Scott Satur­day. “It's go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult to sur­vive this if you're in the Keys. I'm beg­ging you to get out.”

FEMA chief Brock Long added that the dam­age ex­pected by the storm would pre­vent res­cue teams from reach­ing af­fected ar­eas. “You're on your own un­til we can ac­tu­ally get in there, and it's safe for our teams to sup­port lo­cal and state ef­forts,” FEMA said in a state­ment re­ported by the Mi­ami Her­ald. “The mes­sage has been clear — the Keys are go­ing to be im­pacted, there is no safe area within the Keys, and you put your life in your own hands by not evac­u­at­ing.

To deal with the sit­u­a­tion, syn­a­gogues out of the ex­pected path of the hur­ri­cane pre­pared to host in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies flee­ing the storm: In At­lanta, a nine-hour drive north of Mi­ami,

As promised, the storm ar­rived overnight be­tween Satur­day and Sun­day. As of this writ­ing, Florida Gover­nor Rick Scott said that more than 65,000 peo­ple had al­ready lost power, and lo­cal me­dia re­ported that po­lice fire and emer­gency ser­vices in some coun­ties in the south­ern reaches of the state had been sus­pended. By Fri­day, lo­cals had re­ported that gas sta­tions and su­per­mar­ket shelves had been emp­tied of es­sen­tials such as bot­tled wa­ter and canned food.

Is­raeli res­cue teams de­parted Satur­day night for Mi­ami ahead of Hur­ri­cane Irma, which be­gan rav­aging south Florida on Sun­day morn­ing (lo­cal time).

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