Jewish & Israeli Aid Teams Deploy to Florida’s Hardest Hit Areas in Wake of Hurricane Irma

Hatzalah volunteer David Goldwasser on a rescue mission in Key West, Florida. (Photo Credit: David Goldwasser)
Jewish and Israeli rescue and humanitarian aid groups have deployed to the hardest hit areas in Florida, including the Florida Keys and Naples areas, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which struck last weekend.

In the Florida Keys, teams from the Chevra Hatzalah, ZAKA, Israel Rescue Coalition (IRC), CSE and United Hatzalah brought aid and medical assistance as well as much needed water and food to residents Tuesday. They also conducted house-to-house searches for people who chose not to evacuate and were stranded by the hurricane.

“The entire area is without water, power, food, plumbing or cell service and most of the homes are severely damaged,” Gavy Friedson, an EMT with IRC and United Hatzalah, said of the Florida Keys. “We are on the way to assist with search and rescue ops such as door-to-door searches for missing people or families – and unfortunately there is a long list of missing people.”

Chabad of Key West (Photo Credit: David Goldwasser)

Among the Florida Keys residents the teams assisted was a U.S. military veteran named John, who lives in Marathon, Fla. in the central Keys and took shelter from the storm in his bathroom, but has been without food, water or electricity for days.

“John suffers from a respiratory condition that requires him to receive oxygen on a regular basis. Once the hurricane hit, he, like all the residents who were still on the islands, were unable to leave, “said Tamar Citron, a veteran search and rescue volunteer from Israel, who is part of the IRC/United Hatzalah team.

“We provided him with water, food and a lot of positivity. We notified local authorities and EMS teams that he was here and made sure that they followed up to properly care for him,” Cintron added.

“Unfortunately, John is not alone and there are many people stuck on the Keys right now without access to food, water, electricity or a method of communication.”

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), about 25 percent of the homes in the Florida Keys were completely destroyed and up to 90 percent were damaged.