Naama Barak
September 4, 2023

As Hurricane Idalia traversed through the United States’ southeastern coast at the end of the week, Israeli aid group SmartAID prepared to help local first responders by providing them with clean energy, telecommunications and Wi-Fi access. 

SmartAID volunteers towed one of the organization’s Smart Trailers from Fort Myers to Tampa, Florida, at the end of the week, and it has since been used as a mobile coordination hub providing power and telecommunications.

On Sunday morning, a second trailer was brought in, serving as a refrigerated storage unit for medicines.

Israeli aid group powers Hurricane Idalia first responders
The towable trailer made its way to Tampa, Florida, to aid response to Hurricane Idalia. Photo courtesy of SmartAID

“Our commitment involves aiding first responders and affected communities globally, including in the USA itself,” says Shachar Zahavi, SmartAID’s founding director.

“In the past five years, SmartAID has proactively provided crucial technological support during natural disasters across the United States, bridging an important gap in national and international aid systems,” he says.

“By offering immediate access to electricity, Internet and communication tools, we empower first responders and communities to extend their assistance effectively and rapidly to a larger number of people.”

Hurricane Idalia, which left four people dead, dozens trapped and hundreds of thousands without power, traversed through the southeastern US coast for nearly 36 hours at the end of the week. It hit Florida’s Gulf Coast on August 30 as a Category 3 hurricane before pushing into southeast Georgia. By the time it reached the Carolinas, it had subdued into a tropical storm before departing for the Atlantic.

Prior to making landfall in the US, the hurricane was briefly categorized as Category 4, with sustained winds reaching 130 mph. Many counties in Florida were placed under a state of emergency. Emergency shelters were opened, schools and universities were closed, waterways were drained and National Guard members and aircraft were dispatched.

Last month, SmartAID sent a team to help rescue efforts in Maui after devastating wildfires scorched areas of the Hawaiian island. The team distributed crucial relief items such as water filters and hygiene kits and set up a coordination center and telecommunications systems to aid local first responders and charities working on the island.

“Through enhancement of our US-based technological capabilities and resources, we continue to ensure our ongoing support in the face of escalating natural disasters in the country,” said Zahavi.

Earlier this year, together with a host of other Israeli aid organizations, SmartAID also sent out a delegation to Turkey when it was struck by a deadly earthquake.

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