ZAKA team helping with hurricane clean-up in Houston
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ZAKA team helping with hurricane clean-up in Houston

Eight volunteers from Israel fly to Texas to help synagogues, assist with food and humanitarian aid

ZAKA volunteers from Israel help with the cleanup in a Synagogue in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey on September 3, 2017. (Joshua Wander)
ZAKA volunteers from Israel help with the cleanup in a Synagogue in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey on September 3, 2017. (Joshua Wander)

A team of volunteers from Israel’s ZAKA Search and Rescue organization is in Houston to help with clean up in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The eight-member team will be joined by four more volunteers in the coming days, the organization said. The volunteers currently are assisting throughout the city with tasks ranging from clearing debris to delivering food.

The ZAKA volunteers were briefed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is overseeing the recovery efforts, and met with the Orthodox Union, which is coordinating volunteers within the Jewish community in Houston.

A ZAKA volunteer helping with clean-up in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. (Courtesy of ZAKA)

In their first 24 hours in Houston off of a 15-hour plane ride, the ZAKA volunteers worked to clear out the United Orthodox Synagogues and assisted with delivery of kosher food. On Monday, the team worked with Pastor Becky Keenan from the Gulf Meadows Church. “It was particularly meaningful for Pastor Keenan that a team from the Holy Land has come to offer help,” ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said in a statement.

A recovery mission with a difference for ZAKA

Eight ZAKA volunteers came straight off a 15-hour journey from Jerusalem to assist in the recovery and rehabilitation of the flood-ravaged city of Houston, post hurricane Harvey.Working in full cooperation with the Orthodox Union which is coordinating the volunteer effort in the community, they immediately set to work on their first assignment – to inch their way through the synagogue, recover all holy items, remove the debris and pick away at the mold that is growing everywhere. "Slowly but surely, we are managing to recover this area, but at this stage it looks like a total loss," noted ZAKA volunteer Joshua Wander

Posted by ZAKA Search & Rescue NGO on pirmdiena, 2017. gada 4. septembris

The death toll related to Harvey has risen to at least 63 as of Monday. ZAKA’s orders so far have related to humanitarian needs, though houses abandoned in the flooding are still being searched for bodies.

ZAKA, which is recognized by the United Nations as an international humanitarian volunteer organization, is known for its expertise in search, rescue and recovery in natural disasters and terror attacks around the world.

Synagogue in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey on September 3, 2017. (Joshua Wander)
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