A couple walk through the flooded streets the morning after Hurricane Irma swept through Naples, Florida. A couple walk through the flooded streets the morning after Hurricane Irma swept through Naples, Florida. A couple walk through the flooded streets the morning after Hurricane Irma swept through Naples, Florida. (Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Israel group rushes in to help Floridians after historic storm

As the state begins to assess the damage from Hurricane Irma, EMS volunteers from across the world will be there.

As Florida was experiencing the largest evacuation in the state's history, a team of first responders from thousands of miles away were rushing into the storm to help. "Whatever we can do to help them .... this is our target, this is our mission," Joel Leyden, a member of the team, told From the Grapevine.

The psychotrauma volunteers from Israel were welcomed in Savannah.The psychotrauma volunteers from Israel were welcomed in Savannah. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

The Israel Rescue Coalition (IRC) and United Hatzalah of Israel, both community-based volunteer EMS organizations, were the first international search and rescue organization to arrive in the U.S. to help with Hurricane Irma relief efforts. The group started making plans last week. “We’re trying to get out in front of this as much as possible," said organizer Dov Maisel, as they were prepping for the trip. "With resources and volunteers already heavily engaged in Texas, if Irma strikes hard in Florida, people on the ground there will need as much help as they can get, and we are not hesitating to deploy and assist in any way we can.”

The team left Israel on Saturday night, headed to Atlanta.

Once in Atlanta, the group prepped the logistics for the trip farther south. The team consisted of 11 people, including doctors, medical personnel and three psychologists to help victims cope with the trauma.

On Sunday, the team drove to Savannah to help there first. This morning, the group headed to a retirement home there that had lost power to offer assistance.

After spending some time in Savannah, the group headed south to Miami, where they opened a makeshift headquarters. The team – now a robust 50 medical professional volunteers – is dividing up into two groups: one will focus on Naples and the other on the Florida Keys, where they will work with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Guard on search and rescue missions.

The Israeli volunteers (in orange shirts) meet with members of the sheriff's department in Florida.The Israeli volunteers (in orange shirts) meet with members of the sheriff's department in Florida. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Asked about the potential of another hurricane, Jose, to wreak further damage on the coast, Leyden responded: "We are ready. Bring it on."

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