Israeli NGOs send aid to Kentucky in wake of tornadoes

SmartAID volunteers are installing a high-tech coordination center for responders; IsraAID is sending an emergency response team.

By Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c

Following four weekend tornadoes that killed dozens and destroyed homes and businesses in western Kentucky, volunteers for Israeli humanitarian aid organization SmartAID are working with local partners to install a coordination center for emergency workers in hard-hit Mayfield and Benton.

The coordination center will include solar energy, smartphone connectivity, Wi-Fi and other technologies to help responders efficiently plan operations, said SmartAID founder and director Shachar Zahavi.

“Kentucky was the worst-hit state by far in an unusual mid-December swarm of twisters across the Midwest and the South that leveled entire communities, leaving tens of thousands homeless,” said Zahavi.

“Most communities have been left without access to power, clean water, telecommunication, medical treatment and basic survival items.”

Another Israeli humanitarian aid organization, IsraAID, has mobilized an emergency response team to support recovery and cleanup efforts in affected Kentucky communities.

CEO Yotam Polizer says they will join with colleagues from Team Rubicon, a disaster response organization founded by US military veterans, and “work closely with local authorities to assess the situation and identify communities and households in need of support.”

A state of emergency was declared in Kentucky on December 11. At least 74 residents are confirmed dead and more than 100 are missing.

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog tweeted Israel’s condolences to those who lost loved ones. He and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Israel “stands together with the American people and is ready to offer any assistance needed.”