JFNA 2017 Response to Natural Diasters

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Jewish Federation of North America is there when we are needed. Our network of local and international partners enable us to respond quickly and effectively. Right now we are on the ground in Northern California, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Florida and Houston funding urgently needed basics like food and medicine. We will continue to be there assisting with long-term needs like rebuilding communities that have been devastate by this unprecedented series of natural disasters.

100% of your donation to the 2017 Hurricane Relief Fund will go to support those who have been affected by this year’s devastating storms.

Northern California Wildfires

Thousands of homes in Sonoma and Napa Valley have been destroyed and thousands more have been evacuated. The Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Newman has been largely destroyed. The Bay Area Jewish Federations are in full emergency response mode, working with each other and their partners – Jewish Family Services, synagogues, and others – to assist individuals and families who have evacuated, or more tragically have lost their homes. Because so many people are still being evacuated from areas under threat of fire, it is too soon to know the scope of damage affecting the Jewish community. To collect resources, local Federations have established the North Bay Wildfire Emergency Fund.

Hurricane Maria
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Hurricane Maria had a crushing impact on several island nations and in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican Jewish community is about 1,500 people. The entire power grid for the island may be out for 4-6 months and the challenges ahead for the Jewish community there and for the general population are enormous. Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) is working actively with local leadership in Puerto Rico to bring assistance to the island as quickly as possible. IsraAid has a team operating in Puerto Rico, working directly with the Jewish community, and in a few islands providing emergency response services.
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Our partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), has been coordinating emergency responses in several island nations outside the US that have been affected including Cuba and the British Virgin Islands.
Some examples of how donations have been distributed:
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  • $75,000 to Puerto Rico congregations for urgent cash assistance needs in their communities.
  • $80,000 to IsraAid to support their deployment in Puerto Rico providing emergency assistance and trauma counseling.
  • $50,000 to the Afya Foundation to support the shipping of two containers of medical and construction supplies to Puerto Rico.

 

Mexico Earthquakes

Following the first earthquake a few weeks ago JDC partnered on the ground with Cadena Mexico, a major Mexican-based relief organization. In addition, the Israeli government and IsraAid both deployed search and rescue teams to Mexico City. A third major earthquake has since hit but it does not appear to have produced wide-scale additional needs.

Hurricane Irma

In most of Florida and the neighboring states to the north Hurricane Irma had varying degrees of impact. The areas with the largest Jewish populations on the east coast were spared significant damage.
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The long power outages in the week following the storm created a significant short-term health issue, especially for seniors, and several Federations and Chabad engaged in extensive outreach, visiting, and food and water delivery efforts. Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) provided emergency grants to several local Federations and is now assessing longer-range needs across the broad number of communities hit by Irma.
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The truly severe impact from Irma has been in the Florida Keys and US Virgin Islands (St. Thomas) where enormous damage to power grids, airports, shipping ports, water supplies, medical systems and more have brought daily life to a standstill. In addition, many homes were damaged; some completely ruined. Many people have been evacuated from both locales but there are small numbers of Jews who will not leave because they are involved professionally in government, medicine or other critical fields. JFNA is in active contact with and supporting the synagogue communities in both areas.
Some examples of how donations have been distributed:
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  • $40,000 to Florida Federations for food relief and cash assistance needs following Hurricane Irma.
  • $50,000 to the Hebrew Congregation in St. Thomas (USVI) for urgent cash assistance needs in the community.

 

Hurricane Harvey

The Houston Jewish community was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. Of the 51,000 Jews who live in Houston, 71% live in areas affected by flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Among the Jewish day schools, 14% of students and 20% of staff reported flooding. Six major Houston Jewish institutions suffered catastrophic flood damage including three of the largest synagogues and a day school.
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Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) deployed three teams of JFNA and other Federation professionals to Houston over three weeks to mobilize its first stage response to the flooding. JFNA worked with the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies to mobilize similar teams of Jewish Family Services professionals to support the local Houston JFS for several weeks with additional staff resources.
Some examples of how donations have been distributed:
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  • Distributed $1,750,000 to the Houston Federation providing for emergency cash assistance, short-term relocation costs for schools displaced by flooding, educational scholarships, replacement of equipment for the JCC seniors program, costs to ensure High Holiday services for flooded congregations, capitalization of a new flood related free loan program and as an initial emergency grant for the Federation to deploy as needed.
  • $100,000 to the Beaumont/Port Arthur and Galveston, TX communities to be administered through the local congregations and/or Houston Jewish Family Services.
  • $50,000 to Nechama for their emergency response efforts in Houston and the surrounding region.

 

 

 

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