Israel offers assistance after tornadoes devastate six US states

Death toll at 93 and rising as rescue crews continue searching for survivors.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett offered Israeli assistance to the United States after tornadoes cut a swatch of devastation across six states over the weekend.

“Sending thoughts & prayers to all those affected by the devastating tornadoes that hit several U.S. states, especially the people of Kentucky,” Bennett tweeted on Sunday. “Israel is ready to offer any assistance needed.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported more than 30 tornadoes on Friday and Saturday in the states of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi. Rescue crews are searching through the rubble of buildings for survivors while thousands of people whose homes were spared are without electricity after power lines were damaged.

“We have hundreds and hundreds of homes that are lost, businesses that are totally destroyed,” said Tennessee Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Kentucky was the hardest hit, with 50 people confirmed dead. Governor Andy Beshear said his state’s death toll would likely climb to 100.

Meteorologists suggested that the number and intensity of the twisters were increased by unseasonably warm weather and exceptionally strong wind patterns that prevented the tornadoes from dissipating. While most tornadoes break up after several minutes, one of the Kentucky tornadoes travelled more than 200 miles.

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Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog also offered Israeli assistance. “Our heartfelt condolences to those who lost loved ones in last night’s devastating storms, and wishes of a speedy recovery to the wounded. Israel stands together with the American people and is ready to offer any assistance needed,” Herzog tweeted.

Following the collapse of the Champlain Tower condominium complex in Surfside, Fla., Israel dispatched search and rescue workers from the IDF Homefront Command to assist American teams in June. United Hatzalah separately sent a team of workers to provide psychological support for the survivors. The collapse of the 12-story building killed 98 people and injured another 11.

In November, a delegation of American emergency workers from Surfside reunited with their Israeli counterparts in Israel to train and develop a joint rescue doctrine.

American disaster aid and humanitarian groups have already mobilized to help tornado survivors with blood drives, and collections of items such as blankets, winter clothing, bottled water and toiletries.

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Associated Press contributed to this report.