After four days of intensive work in the hard-hit Florida Keys, the commanding officer of the Israel Rescue Coalition (IRC) and United Hatzalah rescue teams announced that the team had helped to locate all missing people from the Jewish communities in the areas that were hit hardest by Hurricane Irma. “Following intensive efforts in Georgia, Naples and the Florida Keys, I am happy to announce that we have helped to locate and identify all of the members of the Jewish communities in those areas, who had lost contact with their loved ones or had been reported missing following the storm. Thankfully they are all doing well and are in good health,” said Shlomi Anavi the commanding officer of the rescue mission.
Anavi further reported that since Wednesday the team had located, identified and treated some 35 people in the Florida Keys alone. “Over the past few days, we have located 35 members of the Jewish community who live in the Florida Keys whose relatives had reached out to us and reported them missing or had lost contact with them. Once people heard that we were operating in the region family and community members began to contact us directly or via social media outlets and asked for our help in locating these people.”
In addition to locating missing persons, the team provided medical treatment for numerous injured people whom they found on the keys during their house to house searches. “We rescued one family who was trapped for a number of days in their house after all of the entrances and exits from the structure were sealed as a result of being damaged in the storm. We also aided the police and other rescue teams in handing out food and other aid to local residents who were not able to evacuate, many of whom had gone without clean water or food supplies for four days.”
The team, which consisted of 10 people in total, has been operating in Georgia and Florida since last Sunday. “We have demonstrated that a small but highly trained group of rescue and medical responders from Israel can help and make a difference, not only in third world countries but even in countries as advanced and developed as the United States. The speed of our reaction time in arriving at areas of operation that we determined needed our help the most, caused us to be the first to arrive in many instances where people needed our help. Among these people were elderly, infirm, military veterans, sick and injured people, and many people who had no way of communicating with their loved ones due to the amount of destruction and the complete collapse of the electrical and communication grids,” Anavi added. “As our team heads back to Israel, we know that we return holding our heads high having completed a job well done.”