Once the rains of Hurricane Harvey stopped, the rescue and reconstruction efforts began. People from around the world donated their time and money to help rebuild the damaged city of Houston and all of the coastal towns surrounding it. Israel sent two teams of 18 people on a flight of 7,054 miles to help the Houston-area community.

ZAKA – Zehut Korbanot Ason — “Disaster Victim Identification” , is an organization recognized by the United Nations for its international humanitarian relief efforts, focused on clearing the synagogues of ruined books and furniture. In Israel, ZAKA is known for cleaning up the bloody scenes after accidents and tragedies. Its members specialize in search and rescue and first aid.

The other team of Israelis that travelled to Houston was organized by the Israeli Rescue Coalition and consisted of mental health professionals.

Dov Maisel,  the director of International Operations for the IRC and vice president of United Hatzalah told The Jerusalem Post, “People need help on the ground,” and “[Houston residents] need to be able to wrap their minds around what was lost and they need assistance figuring out how to cope and where to go from here.”

The team was made up of people who belong to United Hatzalah, an international, volunteer based, emergency response organization, that is based in Jerusalem.  

The IRC website included the story of one volunteer, Miriam Ballin, the delegation head and Houston native. She said that she was grateful to be given the opportunity to fly back to her hometown and help during this time of crisis.

Photos submitted by Adina Passy