Hurricane Harvey: Jewish groups respond to ‘catastrophic’ flooding

Hurricane Harvey: Jewish groups respond to ‘catastrophic’ flooding

Jewish community group Chabad and Israeli humanitarian charity IsraAid offer emergency relief as thousands affected by devastating storm

Rescue personnel help lower this wheelchair bound resident from the back of a vehicle after flooding from hurricane Harvey's almost constant rain
(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rescue personnel help lower this wheelchair bound resident from the back of a vehicle after flooding from hurricane Harvey's almost constant rain (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

International Jewish groups have offered assistance to victims of Hurricane Harvey which has devastated parts of Texas over the weekend.

Israeli humanitarian charity IsraAID and Jewish outreach group Chabad-Lubavitch have offered their assistance, after dozens of Jewish families in Houston, Texas were evacuated from their homes after the weekend.

An IsraAID delegation is on its way to offer psychological help for victims and assist with debris removal in the wake of the hurricane.

Working with the Jewish communities affected, local officials and the Israeli Consul general, they are to deploy a team from Israel and the US to give psychological support, in particular to those evacuated to shelters in Austin and Dallas.

In addition to psychological assistance, the humanitarian group will help clean up debris and sift through wreckage of destroyed homes and salvage people’s belongings, in part, to avoid any major health or hygiene issues from contaminated water and open sewage.

Chabad in Houston set up a relief fund and offered aid to victims of the storm, whilst allowing others trying to give help, to use their centres as a place to reach out. Chabad envoys have also made calls, prepared food and organised for aid to reach those in need.

The Jewish Federations of North America also called for donations to an emergency relief fund to support communities and individuals in Houston, San Antonio, Galveston, Corpus Christi and other areas in Texas that have been hammered by Hurricane Harvey.

The Evelyn Rubenstein JCC reported suffering flood damage. Prior to the hurricane it had collected emergency supplies and will serve as a distribution centre for the community. The Jewish Family Service also reported flood damage, as did at least three Houston synagogues.

More rainfall and flooding are expected in the coming days.

Some 150 neighbourhood blocks in the city that are home to members of the Jewish community and have been damaged in floods as part of the hurricane, the Jewish Family Service, the Texas Jewish Herald-Voice reported.

Many of the families affected by the floods also were flooded out in 2016 and 2015. Some of the families have flood insurance and others do not, according to the report.

The hurricane first made landfall on Friday evening near Corpus Christi, about 200 miles southwest of Houston.

At least three people have been confirmed dead in the flooding.

On Monday morning, Harvey’s centre was entering the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues in southeastern Texas and flash flood emergencies are in effect for portions of this area,” it warned.

The update said that an additional 12 to 25 inches of rain are expected to accumulate through Friday over the upper Texas coast and into southwestern Louisiana, with some isolated areas receiving up to 50 inches of rain, including in the Houston-Galveston metropolitan area. It also warned of possible tornadoes over the next day.

More than two feet of rain fell between late Saturday night and late Sunday night. City residents who were not in a safe place were evacuated from their homes by boats and helicopters. Many were taken to makeshift shelters, since the emergency shelters prepared for the natural disaster proved not to be enough.

Houston’s two main airports reportedly suspended commercial flights and two hospitals evacuated their patients. Freeways throughout the city were under water, with some flood waters nearly reaching the bottom of road signs.

President Donald Trump will visit the stricken area on Tuesday, his spokesman said.

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