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Israeli aid agency helping flood victims in the UK

    Huntingdon Road and Yearsley Crescent covered by floodwater after the River Ouse and River Foss bursts their banks in York city centre last week
    Huntingdon Road and Yearsley Crescent covered by floodwater after the River Ouse and River Foss bursts their banks in York city centre last week

    An Israeli humanitarian aid charity has sent a disaster relief team to help flood victims in the north of England.

    Four IsraAID volunteers landed in London on Monday and travelled to Leeds to begin work helping repair homes and distributing blankets and food in the worst hit areas.

    Shachar Zahavi, founding director of IsraAid, said: “The team have already met with small independent initiatives across the north that are delivering food, gutting houses, and helping to rebuild their homes.

    “Our volunteers will assist with the current effort being carried out and use our experience in these disasters to work out what more we can do and how.”

    The charity, which usually responds to disasters in developing countries, said it was not unusual to respond to floods of the scale that have hit parts of the UK.

    Mr Zahavi said: “We have responded to 10 floods and tornado disasters in the US and when we saw what was happening to the UK in the news it looked worse than ever before.

    “We wanted to show the community we would be there for them.”

    He said: “We got in touch with the Jewish communities around the north of England and they told us about the independent NGOs working on the ground.

    “We contacted them and arranged to send our team to help they said yes and here we are.”

    He said the team of volunteers had spoken to local councillors about the best way for IsraAid to help.

    Mr Zahavi said: “The first team were greeted by locals with open hands and are now mapping the workloads which would include distribution of goods and gutting houses helping people repair their homes.

    “We have another team of five waiting to be sent from Israel we just have to assess where they are most needed and what is the best thing we can do to help.”

    Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Judith Chapman said: "This is an incredible initiative. I find it heartwarming to see that a delegation from Israel is prepared to drop everything in order to reach out to those in Yorkshire who have been affected by this recent terrible crisis and offer professional aid and support and their technical expertise.. When we hear about the dreadfully disturbing events taking place worldwide then this humanitarian act puts everything into perspective and restores one's faith in mankind."

    The Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift, said: “The community response to the devastating flooding in towns in Calderdale has been absolutely incredible.

    “Community groups, along with Council staff, have worked tirelessly to help flood hit communities get back on their feet and Id like to express my gratitude to everyone who’s been involved.”

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