(JNS.org) Israeli emergency rescue teams departed Saturday night for Miami ahead of Hurricane Irma’s arrival in Florida this weekend.
The delegation, coordinated by the umbrella organization Israel Rescue Coalition (IRC), includes Israel’s United Hatzalah emergency response group. They will deploy search-and-rescue teams, as well as EMS and psychotrauma units in South Florida where the hurricane hit hard.
“Our job as volunteers will be to help the community and deal with the situation as best we can in the absence of American officials, until they arrive," said Moti Elmaliah, a spokesman for the IRC, reported Yediot Ahronot.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida Sunday as a Category 3 storm near Naples. It was downgraded to tropical storm as of Monday morning and has left millions without power. It comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which wreaked havoc in Texas, including severe flooding for Jewish families and institutions in Houston.
Florida is home to the third-largest Jewish community—an estimated 655,000 people—in the U.S. Many Jewish residents evacuated in advance of the storm.
Ahead of Irma’s arrival, Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a warning to Israelis residing in areas expected to be hit by the hurricane, and evacuated its diplomats from the region, as the massive storm approached the Florida Keys and the entire state of Florida. As of Monday, Irma’s path is expected to cause heavy storm surges in Georgia and South Carolina as well.
Additionally, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday it would send aid to Mexico after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake—the strongest to hit Mexico in a century—struck 75 miles off the country’s Pacific Coast last Thursday, causing tremendous damage and killing at least 90 people.