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Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 8, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 8, 2017

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 PAGE 3A 5 By Ben Sales (JTA)--As Hurricane Har- vey bore down on Houston Friday, Vicki Samuels Levy dashed over to the offices of the Houston Jewish Herald- Voice, took the proofs of this week's newspaper andwent to her mother's house. Then mother and daughter spent all night editing the paper. And as the waters rose and they had to be evacuated to a neighbor's house the next day, the proofs were in hand, ready for the printer. "We want to help each other as family members, then we have to stop and do things for the paper," said Samuels Levy, the paper's CEO. "I couldn't leave to go to my mother's home before I checked all these pages." The mother, Jeanne Samu- els, is also the owner and editor of the Jewish Herald- Voice. Samuels Levy's hus- band, Lawrence Levy, runs ,P its circulation, and her son, Michael Duke, is its associ- ate editor and news reporter. Her nephew Matt Samuels writes sports and helps with production. And this week, despite the storm waters deluging the city, the family is determined to keep the paper publishing. Founded in 1908, it has never skipped an issue. "We've been through this before, and we had a contin- gency plan in place," Duke said. "We haven't missed a print issue for 109 years. We're hoping this isn't the first time." Although the work is mostly computer based, the flooding has made it an arduous task to put together the paper. Samuels Levy and her mother were forced to move, along with more than a dozen oth- ers, into a neighbor's house Saturday when floodwaters got too high. When Lawrence Levy discovered a computer glitch, he had to wait three days to get to the office and address it. Duke abandoned his SUV after driving two strangers to a relative's house; the vehicle died on the trip home. He and his wife had to wade a half-mile through waist-high waters to make it back, after which Duke began working again. He has managed to report everything remotely, posting on the paper's website a series of articles on everything from families' homes being flooded for the third time to a Mormon with an air boat rescuing 100 people in a Jewish neighbor- hood. By Wednesday morning, the website included more than 20 stories on the storm's impact. In the midst of it all, Duke saved his wife's car from being crushed by a tree, moving it 10 feet just in time Like friends of theirs, the couple plans to host less fortunate families in their (mostly) dry house as soon as the waters recede enough to allow travel. "The hard part was on Sunday and Monday, when I was on the phone with people I know and love who were climbing onto kitchen counters and going on the roof waiting for rescue boats to come," Duke said. As of Wednesday morning, the familywas putting the fin- ishing touches on this week's issue. The printer said it hopes to be back up and running on Thursday evening, and the newspaper was awaiting word from the service that labels and mails the copies on Friday mornings. The Jewish Herald-Voice will offer a free e-edition. Duke has spent the week worrying about his family. But now that everyone is safe, he said, at least they can worry about the paper together. "It's been hard because for the first time, we've had family members directly impacted by Michael Duke, associate editor of the Houston Jewish Herald-Voice, lost his SUV in the flooding but still managed to write his articles. the flood," he said. "It draws your attention in different directions, but because we're family and we're all con- nected, we can lean on each other a little more." By Nicky Blackburn Two teams of Israeli aid experts are on their way to Texas to provide vital relief and psychosocial support to the thousands of people who have lost everything in the catastrophic Tropical Storm Harvey. The storm, which first hit Texas on Sunday and con- tinues to plague the belea- guered state with pounding rain, has left nine dead, and tens of thousands of people homeless as flood waters have poured through city streets in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States. The storm is thought to have af- fected 6.8 million people in 18 countries, a quarter of the Texas population. Humanitarian aid orga- nization IsraAID aims to provide a two-stage response to the disaster, focusing on helping remove debris and clean homes in the wake of the catastrophic flooding, and offering psychosocial trauma support to shocked residents. "In crises with large-scale destruction, national and international aid efforts typically focus on practi- cal, physical support, with limited resources allocated to the mental and emotional rehabilitation of affected populations," said Yotam Polizer, co-CEO of IsraAID. "For the most vulnerable groups, notably children and the elderly, time is of critica| importance; the longer these groups are forced to remain in shelters, the higher the chance of long-term mental health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a disorder that can have a debilitating and long- term impact." iAID, an international aid organization based in Israel, is also sending a team of 9-10 Israeli relief profession- als to offer support to the national guard and other non-governmental American aid groups, to help families and communities affected by the storm. IsraAID, which is working closely with Jewish commu- nities, the local government in Texas, and the Israeli Con- sul General, plans to deploy 5-7 experts from both Israel and the US, to offer psycho- logical support to vulnerable population groups evacuated to shelters in Austin and Dallas. They wilt create and fa- cilitate child-friendly spaces within the shelters to help support homeless children, and offer psyc~logical and emotional support and tools for both individuals and for community resilience- building. The organization will also send a relief team to help local communities remove debris, clean out destroyed homes and help residents sift through the wreckage of former homes to salvage belongings. "This cleaning stage is crucial to avoid major health and hygiene issues from contaminated water and open sewage," said Polizer. "From a psychological per- spective, home-owners are often so overwhelmed by the devastation and the loss of their belongings that they cannot consider the thought of filtering through their Chabad aiding Houston with kosher meals, clean water and shelter ( Chabad- Lubavitch has announced it is aiding Jewish residents of Houston with kosher meals, clean water and shelter amid the biblical-style flood en- veloping the region result- ing from Tropical Storm Harvey. More than 30 inches of rain has fallen on Houston and the surrounding area since last Thursday as a result of Hurricane Harvey, now downgraded to a tropical storm. Up to 50 inches of rain is possible by the end of the week as Harvey continues to pelt the areawith downpours. Texas authorities said Monday afternoon at least eight people have died as a result of the storm and 2,000 people have been rescued from flooded homes with tens of thousands fleeing. According to Chabad, the southwest Houston neigh- borhood of Meyerland, home to a number of synagogues, kosher restaurants and super- markets, is nearly completely submerged, with almost noth- ing edible for Jewish residents there. The local Chabad chapter in Houston, Chabad of Uptown, launched an on- line registration form early Monday for people who've been evacuated and are in need of kosher meals. Kosher breakfasts have already been delivered to Jewish residents at some local shelters or those in holed up in local hotels. "I have a bunch of volun- teers here and some people staying in the house, and we are preparing bagels, scram- bled eggs, hash browns and vegetables for breakfast," said Chanie Lazaroff, co-director of Chabad of Uptown with her husband, Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff. "I sent out a batch already and a few more are going out, but we just got a flash-flood warning, and the challenge is to keep ourselves and our volunteers safe, even as we get out of the house to help others," she told Lazaroff said that Chabad Houses from across Texas are preparing to bring in fresh meals and supplies of kosher meat, chicken, milk and bottled water as soon as the floodwaters recede enough so that deliveries can reach the city. ii ~ ~ !i~!iiiii!i!iiiiiii~!i!~!i!i!i:iii!!i:~!I i~i~i i!~i!ii! ~!! !i ~ii ii ii ~ Houston, Texas suffers catastrophic flooding in Tropical Storm Harvey. possessions to try and save anything. Part of IsraAID's work is to separate what can be preserved. "The loss of people's homes can easily put them into a downward spiral of despair and depression. Cleaning up the mess helps create a positive momentum towards rehabilitation and recovery," Polizer added. IsraAID announced it will prioritize those who do not have insurance or the finan- cial means to clear the debris, and those who are unable to clean up their homes for other reasons. This is not the first time that IsraAID has offered aid to Texas or the US. The orga- nization, which has provided aid to 41 countries over the last decade, flew a seven-man relief team to Wimberley, Texas, in May 2015, when the area was ravaged by floods. IsraAID has also sent di- saster relief to the US fol- lowing floods in Louisiana, the Carolinas, Denver and Detroit, hurricanes in Okla- homa, New York and New Orleans, and wildfires in Washington. Join the Stone Family At Westchester of Winter Park, a Premier Assisted Living Community providing customized care and services in a palatial environment in Winter Park, Florida. Licensed nursing staff is in the building 24 hours each day. Multiple room options at affordable room rates and care level fees. Many services are included in the room rate. 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