(Yona Schnitzer/TPS) The Israeli humanitarian aid organization Rescuers Without Borders (Sauveteurs Sans Frontieres) has distributed over 1.5 tons of food and medical supplies to the residents of the hurricane-struck Caribbean island of Saint Martin.
As of Tuesday afternoon, SSF had 22 volunteers on the ground on the Northern French half of Saint Martin, including doctors, nurses, paramedics and logistical coordinators. Another 2.5 tons of supplies are on the way to the island.
Arie Levy, chairman of SSF, told Tazpit Press Service that the Israeli group was the first international aid organization to arrive on Saint Martin.
“The central hospital is swamped, with only one ER actually functioning,” he said. “We have one group of volunteers working with the local doctors at the hospitals, and another group going door to door helping people. Locals are saying that the police station was broken into right after the hurricane and that lots of weapons were stolen, leaving people afraid to leave their homes.”
The destruction in the Caribbean island has been described by many as “biblical,” and according to volunteers on the ground there are whole areas that the authorities have yet to reach, and every time the water recedes, more bodies surface.
So far, 14 people have been confirmed dead in Saint Martin in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma; however, many more have been displaced or are missing and feared dead.
SSF was established in the beginning of 2005, following the destruction caused by the South Asian tsunami. The organization first sent volunteer crews to Sri Lanka and have since delivered aid to Nepal, the Philippines, Mali, Indonesia, France, South America and Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.
Meanwhile, in Florida, a delegation from ZAKA’s international unit has arrived to deliver aid. The team had previously spent 10 days in Houston, Texas, which suffered severe damage from Hurricane Harvey.