Emergency Disaster Services

Patriot Military Personnel Utilize Salvation Army Volunteers in Training Exercises

During Patriot North disaster training operations at Fort McCoy Army Installation, the Security Forces teams invited Salvation Army canteen volunteers to play a role in their exercises over multiple days. While serving water and snacks, the canteens were surrounded by unruly participants simulating angry mobs of residents. The Security Forces practiced subduing the threat, and protecting the canteen volunteers from encroaching actors who were attempting to rush the canteen and take their supplies.

The partnership and trust being built between The Salvation Army and military Security Forces was a highlight for The Salvation Army McCoy Operations Chief Bill Grier, who said the training value of being involved in military exercises is priceless.

“The more involved they ask us to be in injects, the better off [The Salvation Army] will be in disaster response,” said Grier.

As someone who has been involved in disaster response for over 20 years, with 27 major deployments under his belt, Grier remarked that disasters “only work well when you have well-built, well-established partnerships” developed before a disaster hits. He continued, “So working together with the military, law enforcement, and the like is key” at disaster training exercises like Patriot North.

The Salvation Army volunteers found it valuable training experience, as well.

Canteen SATERN (ham radio) operator David Byrne reflected: “Often in Emergency Management we find ourselves waiting for something to happen, which happened to me yesterday waiting for the exercise to begin. So, I got lax in my situational awareness. Then when the exercise players surrounded our van, the surprise, and our reaction to it, was real.”

Agitated, aggressive, emotional crowds, like the ones simulated in the training exercise are not uncommon in disasters. Canteen volunteers Phillip and Christine Powers commented, “When we were deployed to California for the wildfires, we definitely saw people who were angry because of their situation.” “It can make you feel helpless,” they continued. So, learning how to respond to the crowds, and how to stay safe when the situation escalates, is important learning for them.

The Salvation Army deployed 25 of their 75 volunteers to Fort McCoy throughout the Patriot North disaster training exercise. In addition to partnering in the training exercises, The Salvation Army also delivered over 250 meals and dozens of cases of water each day to the military personnel at Fort McCoy.

The motto “Be Prepared” took on a new meaning for Salvation Army Lieutenant Alphonso Hughes this past weekend from the Tornado

Ready to Serve when Tornado Hits Close to Home

The motto “Be Prepared” took on a new meaning for Salvation Army Lieutenant Alphonso Hughes this past weekend. Most days you will find Lt. Hughes in northern Virginia, where he serves as an assistant at The Salvation Army Alexandria Corps, but last week a family emergency called him home to Columbus, Mississippi. Late Saturday evening, April 13, as tornadoes hit a couple of towns over in Monroe County, Lt. Hughes was in contact with the Columbus Corps to see what help he could provide to their staff and volunteers. “I knew their lieutenant was at women’s retreat, so I wanted to help. It happened really fast and we were told to ‘just go!’” explained Lt. Hughes.

While he and youth evangelism and outreach director, Melvin Franklin, could not get the mobile feeding unit into storm ravaged neighborhoods, they were able to set up a distribution site. They selected a location that was easily accessible to first responders and members of the community. In addition to providing water and snacks, neighbors came by with donations such as tarps that could be distributed to those in need.

By Monday morning, all local officers were back on the job and an EOC was established. Even though Lt. Hughes was not needed on the front lines, he came back to the Corps to help make sandwiches and pack supplies. “You never know when you are going to be called to God’s service. This reminds me to always be ready,” shared Lt. Hughes. “Even when I was going through personal worries for the issues my family is facing unrelated to the storm, God provided me an opportunity to step outside of that and share his love with other people.”

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go towww.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

A devastating series of tornadoes that ripped through eastern Alabama on Sunday forged further east to discharge a measure of their fury throughout

Salvation Army Helps Those Impacted by South GA Tornadoes

A devastating series of tornadoes that ripped through eastern Alabama on Sunday forged further east to discharge a measure of their fury throughout the South Georgia region. In Columbus, GA, just thirty miles east from the main devastation located in Lee County, AL, The Salvation Army partnered with local authorities to strategize how best to help those in Georgia impacted by the winter storm.

On Monday afternoon, The Salvation Army of Columbus started cooking meals for first responders and residents impacted by the tornados either picking up the pieces of their homes or refuging at a Red Cross shelter in Talbotton, GA, where over sixty homes were damaged or completely destroyed.  “We are here to do all the good we can,” says Pastor Michael David, shelter director at The Salvation Army of Columbus and leader of the disaster relief cooking operation for The Salvation Army of Columbus. Salvation Army canteens from Columbus and Newnan, GA work alongside Red Cross units to deliver meals prepared each day by the Columbus Corps.

One hundred and forty miles to the south, in Cairo, GA, The Salvation Army of Thomasville, GA started cooking meals today for responders and impacted area residents that were gathered at a Red Cross shelter located in Grady County, where an EF2 tornado with winds of 120 mph shook houses, toppled trees downed power lines. Canteens from Thomasville and Bainbridge, GA deliver 550 meals to the shelter and to impacted residents for lunch and dinner.

“We are humbled and prepared to provide relief services to our fellow residents in Georgia impacted by this devastating weather,” says Lanita Lloyd, Director of Emergency Disaster Services for The Salvation Army of Georgia. “And we will continue to assess and deploy Salvation Army disaster relief resources when and where they are needed.”

Lloyd says on Wednesday The Salvation Army plans to also start distribution of cleanup kits to help residents impacted by the storms.

How to Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation.

On October 10, 2018, hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall in the United States, ripped through the Florida Panhandle.

Life After The Storm

On October 10, 2018, hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall in the United States, ripped through the Florida Panhandle. A violent Category 4 storm, Michael pounded Panama City, Fla., and surrounding areas. The eye was 105 kilometres wide, winds were at 225 km/h and 1,000 tornadoes peeled back the landscape of what was once known as the Emerald Coast. The result was utter devastation and an estimated loss of $414 billion. It could take 15 years for the area to return to “normal.”

“So many lives have been changed forever,” says Florida Governor Rick Scott. “So many families have lost everything. This hurricane was an absolute monster.” Tens of thousands of homes were unlivable, businesses were turned into piles of splintered lumber, and gas stations and strip malls were crumpled. Entire roofs were torn away, trees were severed in two, and the widespread and catastrophic damage made the city unrecognizable to local residents.

Three weeks after Michael ripped through the Florida Panhandle, I was deployed for 14 days to Panama City with a 12-member incident management team from the Canada and Bermuda Territory’s emergency disaster services. While residents coped with destruction and devastation, we oversaw operations, communicated with media outlets and ensured the delivery of hot meals, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, tarps, and emotional and spiritual care. At the height of deployment, 20 canteens were feeding 12,000 people a day.

Perseverance

As our team’s public information officer, my role was to communicate to the public and to The Salvation Army about the state of operations and how we were supporting those affected by the storm.  As I travelled to canteen locations that were serving hot meals, delivered backpacks to children and teachers at a local school, and made home visits to check on peoples’ well-being, I heard frightening stories of riding out the storm, saw so much of what people had lost, and watched in awe as they persevered in the midst of immense destruction. But even in the midst of their pain and extreme heartache, their warmth, resilience and positivity was incredible. They had lost homes, livelihoods and their lives were literally turned upside down, yet they greeted me with friendly smiles and grateful words.

“We were seven huddled together in the bathroom―the best safe room with one door and no windows,” says Jolynn, whose home was severely damaged by the hurricane. “When we heard the wind pull up the roof and drop it down many times we thought we were going to die. We heard trees cracking. Then suddenly three quarters of the roof ripped away from the house. We were under one big skylight.”

“When the eye of the storm came through, I held tight to my husband in a hallway,” explains Sherri as she tells me about her experience with Michael. “We felt the walls of our home breathe like lungs. A 6,000-pound maple tree crashed down on the side of our house. We were trapped in our collapsing home and convinced we wouldn’t get out alive.” Sherri and her husband, Rick, are now living in their camper in the driveway in front of their destroyed home.

A Tiny Light

“What can we do?” asked Lieutenant Stefan Reid, corps officer at Vernon Community Church in the British Columbia Division and our team’s planning chief, when he stumbled upon a little white church that was only half standing. “We need food. I can’t keep going,” replied Karen, the pastor’s wife. In the three weeks since the hurricane, she and her husband, Eddie, and two volunteers, had been serving 100 people a day out of four crockpots.

“There were tarps over the building and no electricity,” Lieutenant Reid explains. “In the back of the fellowship hall, with insulation falling and wires exposed, people affected by the hurricane were getting non-perishables, simple supplies, bedding, clothing and blankets.”

Calloway is a low-income neighbourhood located nine kilometres from Panama City. Most of the 150 residents couldn’t evacuate due to lack of transportation and all were left with significant damage or mobile homes that were completely destroyed. The only shelter for many were the tarps that hung everywhere.

While our team was initially overwhelmed by the extent of destruction and the demand for services, it was a privilege to bring relief and a glimmer of hope to those we were called to serve.

“We all wanted to stay and keep giving until we couldn’t give any more,” concludes Lieutenant Reid. “The Salvation Army was a tiny light in the midst of the storm.”

Article contributed by Linda Leigh is the staff writer in the territorial public relations and development department.

Emergency Disaster Personnel Worship Before Serving

Emergency Disaster Personnel Worship Before Serving

On Sunday morning, 38 of those people gathered to worship in Apalachicola before going out to serve those in need. Without chairs, people lined the bottom bleacher or stood in the old gym which has been converted into a community center. The pulpit was made by two boxes with a blanket over them. An offering was taken for Hurricane Michael.

The Salvation Army is serving those affected by Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle. Hundreds of personnel including officers, employees, and volunteers are deployed across multiple counties providing food, hydration, emotional and spiritual care as well as providing much-needed supplies.

On this Sunday, Captain Jason Perdieu shared these reminders, “Walls will not define us. Wherever we are, we are the church. We are here for such a time as this.” Major David Luft and Major Nelson De La Vergne led the worship service. Major De La Vergne opened the service with an object lesson in an optical illusion. It appeared he tore a piece of paper apart, representing all the messes we as humans make. God takes those many pieces and then burns them with the Holy Spirit to make us complete again. As the story concludes, the piece of paper is whole again.

Major Luft led the group in song with “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and began his sermon with Mark 4:35-40 (BLB) where Jesus rebuked the wind and sea. He asked the disciples “Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?” As everyone in the service is working with people affected by Hurricane Michael, the passages were especially meaningful.

The service was closed by one of the Emotional and Spiritual Care Specialists sharing the words to Casting Crowns’ “I’ll Praise You in the Storm.” The lyrics reminded everyone there The Salvation Army is ministering to Others in His name to those whose hearts are torn, yet still praising Him during the storm in their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

Since shortly after the hurricane hit on October 10, one of serval Incident Management teams has been based in Apalachicola serving Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties. The Salvation Army remains committed to serving those whose lives have been forever changed.

“I trusted God through the whole storm and He has a plan for me, so I’m not afraid of the future. We’re just exhausted from the emotions,”

I Trusted God through the Whole Storm

“I trusted God through the whole storm and He has a plan for me, so I’m not afraid of the future. We’re just exhausted from the emotions,” she said.

Nestled along the St. Andrews Bay, is the historic neighborhood of St. Andrews, known for its quaint shops and home to free-spirited locals, like Joan “GG” Canal.

Still reeling two weeks after Hurricane Michael, debris from buildings and trees line the streets of St. Andrews. GG was cleaning out her vintage boutique that was heavily damaged by the storm, when Salvation Army Major Clarine Meitrott stopped by with a hot lunch and words of support.

“The amount of love from people like you with something like a warm meal is contagious,” GG said with tears in her eyes. “I hope the spirit lives on here in St. Andrews; the spirit of love that got us through the storm and is getting us through each day right now.”

Major Meitrott is among a team of Salvation Army officers from the US and Canada who are providing emotional and spiritual care to hurricane survivors like GG throughout the Panama City area.  The two women spoke at length and prayed together on the sidewalk in front of GG’s shop.

Although it would be some time before her business reopens, GG remains optimistic about life. She shares her messages of hope with the community through the words painted on signs in front of her store. One simply reads, “We will rebuild.” And on the plywood used to board up her broken store windows, she painted, “Psalm 57:1.” (Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I will take shelter until the danger has passed.)

“We’re glad we are still standing and give God all the glory, praise and honor due Him,” GG said.

Since Hurricane Michael made landfall, The Salvation Army has made 26,916 emotional and spiritual care contacts with survivors, a vital service in catastrophic events. Not all impacts of natural disasters are visible.  The Salvation Army addresses the stress of disaster survivors and first responders with emotional support and spiritual care.  Whether it’s lending a listening ear, offering a hug, joining together in prayer, or simply being present, providing spiritual comfort is the heart of The Salvation Army’s mission.

Dr. Elizabeth Blount is a local veterinarian in Tallahassee as well as a volunteer with TDI, which is a volunteer-based organization that provides therapy

Tallahassee Veterinarian Sharing in Salvation Army’s Ministry of Comfort

Dr. Elizabeth Blount is a local veterinarian in Tallahassee as well as a volunteer with TDI, which is a volunteer-based organization that provides therapy dogs to individuals in vulnerable situations such as disasters, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Emotional and spiritual care is a unique and valued component of The Salvation Army’s emergency response. In times of crisis, The Salvation Army utilizes trained personnel to provide comfort to rescue workers and disaster survivors.

The Salvation Army is partnering with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) to support serving people impacted by Hurricane Michael, including displaced families and first responders from the Florida State Emergency Response Team (SERT) in Tallahassee.

After receiving an email requesting therapy dogs to support The Salvation Army’s Incident Command service area for Tallahassee, Dr. Blount had a personal incentive to support this emergency response with her therapy dogs, golden retrievers Gabriel and Molly.

Dr. Blount was one of the many individuals who lost her home after Hurricane Irma devastated the Florida Keys last year. The Category 4 hurricane flooded her home with over 3 feet of water, roofs were torn off, and buildings were demolished. While Dr. Blount and her neighbors were outside rummaging through the debris for their personal belongings, a Salvation Army mobile feeding unit made its way through the wreckage.

“The mobile unit came down the street and stopped at every single house, greeted us, handed us a hot meal, and told us they loved us. It was literally enough to make us cry,” said Dr. Blount. “Not only were we desperate for a meal and water but just for somebody to say hey, we care…it made all the difference.”

Solace can come from a hot meal, a hug from a furry friend, or the caring presence of The Salvation Army’s staff and volunteers. As of October 16, The Salvation Army has provided emotional and spiritual care to 7,000 survivors and first responders impacted by Hurricane Michael in Florida.

 

To help support the disaster relief work of The Salvation Army, donations can be made at www.HelpSalvationArmy.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, by texting STORM to 51555, or by check (designated “2018 Hurricane Season – Michael”) mailed to PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301.

Bainbridge is a small town neatly nestled in the southwestern corner of the state of Georgia just over the Alabama and Florida state lines.

The Salvation Army Helps Hispanic Community Seeking Shelter in Bainbridge, GA

Bainbridge is a small town neatly nestled in the southwestern corner of the state of Georgia just over the Alabama and Florida state lines. It was first settled as a small trading post in the late 18th century. Residents are rightly proud of their little corner of Georgia, and will quickly remind you it’s the hometown of Georgia Bulldog Head Coach Kirby Smart.

Life is fairly laid back in Bainbridge. But, that all changed when Michael arrived hurling winds of 120 miles per hour down against the quite little town.

“Bainbridge was never seen anything like this before,” said Maria Diaz, a resident since 1999. “The last time anything close to this happened here was back in 1851.”

Bearing testimony to Maria’s statement, countless 100-year-old-plus live oak trees, that once graced the town, are now strewn across streets and lawns, and lay toppled over homes and businesses.

Many of the largest and most beautiful trees in Bainbridge are now either gone or severely disfigured. Waves and swaths of live oak leaves stripped from their branches by hurricane-force winds still swirl in the narrower back streets, like dark green glitter tinged with a smattering of road dust. Unripen acorns wretched from parental trees easily crunch underfoot at every step.

A few miles south of town, and a stone’s throw from Tallahassee Highway, almost 100 men, women and children huddled together inside the United Methodist Hispanic Hispanic Mission seeking shelter from the rages of Hurricane Michael, not knowing the fate of their clustered trailer-homes just over the tree line. Their fear grew in intensity as the raging storm winds increased and pressed trees down to their breaking point. At the height of the storm, the little group of gathered families huddled together in prayer for thirty minutes in the center of the chapel. At midnight, the power went out.

Local congregation leader, Jamie Gallaga, earlier pleaded with the little Hispanic community to shelter in the church from the storm. Much to Mr. Gallaga’s relief, they listened. Gallaga grew up on the Mexican Gulf Coast and shared his frightening personal experiences of what hurricane force winds could do. Although Gallaga is not an ordained pastor, its not important to the little Hispanic community. He took up care for the little Hispanic flock when the pastor assigned to the church was delayed by governmental red tape over a year ago, and they won’t forget his unfailing love and dedication to them.

“I’m glad they listened,” says Gallaga with tears in his eyes, “I can’t image what I would do if anything happened to one of these little ones,” he adds, as children run laughing, playing and chasing each other around the inside of the chapel.

The women and children stay at the Hispanic Mission Church during the day while the men go back to their devastated neighborhood to do what repairs they can. One man lost his trailer-home where he and his five children were living. He lost his wife a few years ago, and now must maintain his strength for his family to make it through yet another tragedy.

Gallaga’s step-son’s house is destroyed — crushed under numerous fallen trees. And two trees crashed through Gallaga’s home, too. “I’m not going to worry about my home or going back to work until the congregation is taken care of and none of them need to stay here anymore,” says Gallaga resolutely.

Just then, one of the best mobile kitchen units in The Salvation Army Georgia Division 21-canteen fleet from Elberton, GA, slowly navigates the turn into the driveway of the church—within a short time it is set up and ready to serve lunch.

Behind the serving window is 2016 Salvation Army Southern Territory Volunteer of the Year, Joe Johnson, now approaching 30 years of volunteer service. “I love doing this,” Johnson says, as a gaggle of pre-teen girls skip up to the canteen followed closely by their moms and younger siblings. “Hot dogs!” they exclaim excitedly.

“I don’t have words to express how much it means for you to help us like this,” says Gallaga.

“That’s what we do – helping people in their time of need,” says Johnson. “We’re with you, and we won’t leave Bainbridge, or the little Hispanic Mission, either, until all in need are served and safe.”

Michael is an intense category 4 hurricane — the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Florida panhandle. After slamming ashore,

The Salvation Army of Georgia Readies as Michael Slams Florida Panhandle

Michael is an intense category 4 hurricane — the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Florida panhandle. After slamming ashore, Michael is expected to continue northeast as a category 2 hurricane, raging through Southern Georgia across Bainbridge, Thomasville and Savannah with weather unlike anything they have seen before.

Salvation Army mobile feeding units (canteens) and other resources from across the southern U.S. are stationed to quickly provide feeding, hydration and emotional and spiritual care throughout impacted areas.

“Hurricane Michael is a powerful storm,” Says Major Charles Powell, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army of Georgia. “We are ready and poised to minister in the name of Jesus to those who are hurting — to be there for them in their time of need. We want to be a ray of light in their time of darkness that brings peace to their minds and hearts.”

In Georgia, twenty-one canteens stand ready to deploy to areas affected in Georgia. A Salvation Army Incident Management Team (IMT) monitors the storm progress and impact from their operations center located in The Salvation Army’s Divisional Headquarters building Atlanta, Georgia. From this location, The Salvation Army of Georgia can coordinate and communicate with Salvation Army locations and resources across the state, and with state and local officials in efforts to respond effectively where resources are needed most. The current focus centers on the 108 counties in South Georgia placed under a state of emergency by Governor Nathan Deal.

“We continue to assess and evaluate the situation,” says Captain Erik Henry, Incident Commander for the Georgia Incident Management Team, “Once we see exactly how the storm impacts our state, we will be able to redeploy our resources as needed to help those in the most severely affected areas.”

The Salvation Army of Georgia is already in action providing drinks and meals in key locations for first responders, evacuees and those seeking help including; Albany, Americus, Augusta, Douglas, Dublin, Macon, Tifton and Thomasville. Many other locations are on standby ready to respond when needed

The best way to help survivors and relief workers is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.

New Bern Corps, North Carolina held worship this morning. The band played ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness

Worship in the midst of a storm

New Bern Corps, North Carolina held worship this morning. The band played ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’, hymns were sung, a message was delivered, scripture was read. The meeting was much like any other Salvation Army meeting in the more than 14,000 Salvation Army worship locations all over the world.

This worship meeting, however, was not like any other. It was held in a donated space hastily set up for the service. White plastic chairs replaced upholstered pews. The backdrop to the pulpit was a curtain of white pipe and drape. Instead of worshipping in the church that stood for generations, 45 people came to an unfamiliar building to praise God.

The worshippers were full of joy and thanksgiving despite the destruction Hurricane Florence brought to the second oldest town in North Carolina.

During and immediately after Hurricane Florence, New Bern saw more than ten feet (over three meters) of storm surge and flooding when the Neuse and Trent rivers rose dramatically in hours. Almost a foot of rain fell in the area, creating even more flooding. More than 450 of the 30,000 residents of New Bern had to be rescued. The Salvation Army corps building in New Bern still stood but took on two-plus feet of water. Much of the building was heavily damaged in the storm, but the three crosses in front of the church stood firm.

‘That building was just brick and mortar. It was just a building. The building is NOT the Army. We are the Army. You are the Army. And we, as the Army, have work to do!’ said corps officer Captain Curtis Kratz, in his sermon.

Since the storm hit New Bern, The Salvation Army has been at work. Feeding people. Giving hope through outdoor meetings. Being a helping hand in a storm-ravaged community. Since before the storm hit, more than 11,000 meals have been served to first responders and people impacted by the storm. More than 360 people have received prayers and words of encouragement from Salvation Army pastors.

In the coming weeks, the shock from the storm will wear off. Families will have to figure out a new plan. And The Salvation Army will be there, working alongside the community to rebuild.