A volunteer knocks down drywall in a flood-damaged home in Baton Rouge, La. A volunteer knocks down drywall in a flood-damaged home in Baton Rouge, La. A volunteer knocks down drywall in a flood-damaged home in Baton Rouge, La. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAid)

As Louisiana flood victims sort through wreckage, much-needed help arrives

An international humanitarian group is in Baton Rouge helping victims rebuild and recover.

In what officials are calling "the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy," catastrophic flooding in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area has claimed at least 13 lives and destroyed at least 60,000 homes across 20 parishes.

As survivors and first responders sift through the wreckage, a team of highly trained rescue volunteers from Israel is helping people salvage their property and begin to rebuild.

A pair of IsraAid volunteers helps clear out a flood-damaged home.A pair of IsraAid volunteers help clear out a flood-damaged home. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAid)

"We've been following how the storm and flooding have been developing over the last few days," IsraAid Global Programs Director Naama Gorodischer, who is leading the efforts in Baton Rouge, said last week. "With the help of our local partners, we've been able to get a good situation report on the extent of the damage, and the urgent need for assistance and rehabilitation."

The eight-member IsraAid team has been collecting and clearing household items from some of the 60,000 homes destroyed in the flood. Gorodischer said she and her team arrived after waters subsided so they could begin working immediately.

IsraAid volunteers assess damage to a closet door in a home in Baton Rouge.IsraAid volunteers assess damage to a closet door in a home in Baton Rouge. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAid)

The nonprofit organization is no stranger to disaster relief. In recent years, IsraAid has dispatched groups of aid workers to far reaches of the globe – from Vanuatu to Nepal, where the organization's volunteers created an unconventional method to deliver much-needed medicine. Earlier this summer, IsraAid joined relief efforts in West Virginia after flooding there damaged more than 1,000 homes.

An IsraAid volunteer collects insulation from a flood-damaged home.An IsraAid volunteer collects insulation from a flood-damaged home. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAid)

In both the Louisiana and West Virginia flood relief efforts, IsraAid joined forces with Team Rubicon, an American disaster response group made up entirely of military veterans. With many IsraAid members being veterans, too, the two groups shared a special bond.

"We've been working with them for years," Dan Friedman, an IsraAid volunteer who assisted efforts in West Virginia, said of Team Rubicon. "We're happy to be here."

IsraAid volunteers joined forces with Team Rubicon in both the West Virginia and Louisiana flood relief efforts.

IsraAid volunteers joined forces with Team Rubicon in both the West Virginia and Louisiana flood relief efforts. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAid)

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