In California wildfire aftermath, Israeli aid groups rush in
IsraAid gears up to help survivors following one of the deadliest fires in U.S. history, hoping to 'promote community resilience.'
With almost half a million acres destroyed and 79 deaths reported, the two wildfires raging in California rank among the deadliest in U.S. history.
But beyond the grim statistics, there's hope – in the form of IsraAid, an international relief agency based in Israel, that has just deployed to the two devastated regions to begin and maintain the recovery process for survivors.
As part of its deployment, IsraAid will "conduct a needs assessment of the population in the affected area, promote community resilience and recovery, and distribute relief items to families currently staying in temporary accommodation after losing their homes in the fires," the group said.
The team will include Israeli and American mental health specialists, who will work with partner organizations on the ground to support affected communities.
This deployment builds on emergency responses already in place in Florida, where teams are still helping families affected by Hurricane Michael return to their homes. In 2017, IsraAID responded to wildfires in Sonoma County, California, distributing relief supplies and strengthening children's well-being.
Currently, IsraAid's ranks are a mix of professionals and volunteers who serve as medics, search and rescue squads, post-trauma experts and community mobilizers. Chief among the group's focus is building long-term survival skills, something relief worker Niv Rabino discussed during a From The Grapevine podcast episode back in September.
"We employ a lot of different services, and we always try to be the first ones in the fields giving the life-saving resources that people need," Rabino, a native of Haifa, told From The Grapevine. "First and foremost, we are a disaster response organization. But, I think, what is special about IsraAid, and what I like about our mission, that it's not only looking in the response phase, it really puts into work the different stages of rehabilitating a community that was affected by a disaster."
You can listen to Rabino's episode here:
IsraAID's response to the 2017 Sonoma County wildfires focused on strengthening community resilience and children's wellbeing in Santa Rosa. (Photo: Courtesy)
And for more information about IsraAid, watch our video:
IsraAid is not the only Israeli organization on the move in California. A startup called Watergen, which helped out last year after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island of Puerto Rico. has sent one of their patented machines to the scene of the fire. Their device actually creates clean water out of thin air and they hope to use it to provide clean water to rescue workers.
“Providing the police and firefighters with the basic necessity of drinking water allows them to serve and help for longer periods of time,” said CEO of Watergen USA, Ed Russo. “It would especially reduce the need for plastic bottles, which sitting in the sun would be unhealthy.”
Watergen is just one of many Israeli companies helping with water crises all across the globe.
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Related Topics: Humanitarian