2017 Disaster Relief Update

(as of 10/27/17)
Our network of local and international partners enables us to respond quickly and effectively. We fund urgently needed basics like food and medicine, and long-term needs like trauma counseling. We provide resources to emergency service providers so they can help where they’re most needed. 
We also enable trained staff to expand their support of the most vulnerable populations, whose needs escalate during emergencies.
For decades we’ve ensured humanitarian relief for those who’ve needed it most. Federation holds out a safety net. And we’ll never let it fall.
In the weeks since Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and many Federations around the country have responded with extraordinary support. Beyond Houston, our national system has worked to mobilize people and resources to help in the aftermath subsequent natural disasters including Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Irma, and fires in northern California. 
Hurricane Harvey
Seven weeks following the end of the rain, Houston and the other areas affected by Hurricane Harvey are still in fairly early stages of recovery.  With more than 2,000 Jewish homes flooded, and 8 major institutional facilities in the Jewish community sustaining catastrophic damage, the scope of issues facing the Houston Jewish community are enormous.
To date approximately $17.9M has been raised through the Jewish Federation system, as follows:
  • $6.5M raised by Jewish Federations across North America
  • $9.1M raised by the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston
  • $1.3M contributed by Jewish Foundations (does not include foundation grants to local Federations or the Houston Federation, which are incorporated in the figures above)
  • $1M committed by the Government of Israel
Of this amount, over $12M has been allocated to provide direct relief to flood victims (trauma counseling, case management and financial assistance), to help these individuals and families to stay connected to Jewish life and community, and to address institutional sustainability and repair issues. The focus of the Jewish Federations’ national funding is primarily in the area of relief to flood victims. While the primary focus is on the enormous impact of the flood in Houston, the small communities in Galveston and Beaumont are also receiving assistance.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria
The impact on mainland Florida from Hurricane Irma was less severe than anticipated, especially for the larger concentrations of Jewish population on Florida’s east coast.  While the larger communities in South Florida (Miami, Broward County, South Palm Beach and Palm Beach) were generally able to address the issues in their own communities and extend assistance to other communities, there was heavier impact on some of the smaller communities further north (Collier County, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine). A unique role was fulfilled by Chabad across numerous Florida communities in providing congregate and home-delivered meals to seniors and others affected by prolonged power outages.
The biggest impact of these storms have been felt in the islands off the coast of Florida, within and beyond the US border – Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the Florida Keys, Cuba, and others. Jewish Federations of North American have focused our support on the US communities affected, while our partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, is supporting Cuba and other island nations. The major focus of our efforts has been in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, which are both characterized by small Jewish communities deeply affected amidst a sea of misery well-documented in the news media.
None of these communities have communal infrastructure beyond individual synagogues and our support has primarily been directly to affected individuals through the various congregations, and supporting the work of IsraAID and the AFYA Foundation, who are providing humanitarian assistance to the Jewish communities and on a significant non-sectarian basis.
As several of our large Federations are working directly with partners in their own communities or international aid organizations with which they have relationships, the financial information that follows reflects only the funds remitted to JFNA:
Funds Remitted to date in response to Hurricanes Irma/Maria: $900,000
Allocations: $530,000
Mainland Florida Communities:
  • Jewish Federation of Broward County   $20,000
  • Chabad of Broward County                    $50,000
  • Collier County Jewish Federation           $45,000
  • Jacksonville Jewish Federation              $20,000
  • Pinellas County                                       $25,000
Island Communities:
  • Key West congregations        $30,000
  • Puerto Rico congregations     $135,000
  • St. Thomas congregations     $75,000
  • IsraAID in Puerto Rico           $80,000
  • AFYA Foundation                   $50,000
In addition to these funds, with the financial support of UJA Federation of New York, JFNA was able to acquire and deliver 212 urgently needed generators to Jewish communities in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and the Keys for distribution to members of the Jewish community and others in need. Several of our Federations, most notably New York, Miami, Broward, and South Palm Beach, have all been engaged in direct relief efforts in the island communities which are not reflected in these numbers.
North Bay Fires in California
The most recent focus of disaster relief efforts has been in response to the extensive wildfires in Napa and Sonoma counties in California. Over the period it took to get the fires contained, a very extensive area was devastated by the fires, resulting in the loss of 7,000 homes.
Within the Jewish community, dozens of Jewish homes were destroyed by fire, and URJ’s Camp Newman was also largely destroyed.  The Jewish Federation of San Francisco, The Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay Jewish Federation partnered together to create the North Bay Wildfire Relief Fund, and have coordinated their relief efforts during and in the immediate aftermath of the fires. For more information, click here.


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