An IsraAid volunteer surveys the damage in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence. An IsraAid volunteer surveys the damage in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence. An IsraAid volunteer surveys the damage in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAID)

Globetrotting humanitarians arrive in North Carolina, Indonesia and the Philippines

It's been a busy time for IsraAid, which has responded to hurricanes, tsunamis and typhoons in recent weeks.

The headlines may have moved away from North Carolina, where Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc in mid-September. But the aftermath of the storm is still being felt, as thousands of people attempt to rebuild. Swooping in to help are several humanitarian organizations, including Tel Aviv-based relief agency IsraAid.

The Israeli group is leveraging its expertise after responding to other recent U.S. natural disasters – including Hurricane Irma in Florida, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Harvey in Houston and the wildfires in Santa Rosa, California. "We are praying for the people of the Carolinas and are ready to provide help and assistance for as long as we are needed," the organization said.

IsraAid workers helped clean up damaged houses after Hurricane Florence. IsraAid workers helped clean up damaged houses after Hurricane Florence. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAID)

September also saw IsraAid responding to Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines. The Israeli group is familiar with the country as they first deployed a team there in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, which caused more than 6,000 fatalities and impacted more than 16 million people. In the Philippines, IsraAID’s team is currently providing psychological support training to teachers, police officers and other service providers, empowering low-income women to gain a livelihood through beekeeping and building regional emergency response teams from trained volunteers.

And after last week's earthquake and subsequent tsunami, IsraAid is now sending a team to Indonesia where they will distribute vital relief items, provide mental health support to vulnerable groups and conduct an initial needs assessment to determine immediate and long-term needs.

Indonesian locals survey the damage with an IsraAid worker. Locals in the Philippines survey the damage with an IsraAid worker. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAID)

In the Philippines, IsraAid set up a child-friendly space in an evacuation center. In the Philippines, IsraAid set up a child-friendly space in an evacuation center. (Photo: Courtesy IsraAID)

“The communities affected by this disaster need immediate support, as the full scale of destruction is only now becoming clear, with thousands experiencing the trauma and uncertainty of displacement and the tragic loss of loved ones," said Navonel Glick and Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s co-CEOs. "IsraAID’s regional and international teams have extensive experience in similar situations, including the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Our emergency response team will have a crucial impact in the immediate, post-disaster situation and assess long-term needs as Indonesia rebuilds.”

For all of these efforts, IsraAid relies on a roster of 1,500 volunteers whom they can call on at any given time.

"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. First and foremost, we are a disaster response organization," IsraAid's Niv Rabino told From The Grapevine during a podcast interview commemorating the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. "But, I think, what is special about IsraAid, and what I like about our mission, is 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."

IsraAid is now looking to train the next generation of humanitarian leaders. Called the Humanitarian Aid Fellowship, the program offers an IsraAid internship to interested U.S. college students. This year, 14 fellows were deployed to 8 different countries to help on IsraAid missions.

"It's one of our biggest programs here right now, and we invest a lot of efforts in that," Rabino told us. The applications for next year's cohort are due by the end of December.

"It's really a win-win for everyone," Rabino added. "We love this program because of the exposure the student gets, but also the exposure that IsraAid gets to be represented in all these different universities. All of our fellows are very talented. They are potential leaders of a future in this field."

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Globetrotting humanitarians arrive in North Carolina, Indonesia and the Philippines
It's been a busy time for IsraAid, which has responded to hurricanes, tsunamis and typhoons in recent weeks.