The Salvation Army moves equipment to higher ground, Sunday services cancelled along the Gulf Coast

Jackson, MS – As Tropical Storm Nate moves into the Gulf of Mexico, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi is ready should their help be needed. Coastal locations in Mobile and Dothan, Alabama, Pascagoula and Biloxi, Mississippi, and in New Orleans have their equipment in safe locations, plus all have cancelled Sunday services for this weekend.

“Water and food is ready to go,” said Major Tom Richmond, Coastal Alabama Command located in Mobile. “So are our personnel if we are called to respond.”

Sunday school classes and services will not be held in order to keep everyone safe and off the roads with Nate predicted to make landfall early Sunday morning. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Command will close its Family Stores and the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center this weekend in Biloxi.

“A lot of our employees and residents are more sensitive to these storms when they head our way having lived through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, so we just think it’s better they stay home and prepare for Nate,” said Major Gary Sturdivant, Mississippi Gulf Coast Command.

The Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi has 25 mobile feeding vehicles ready to roll each with the capability to feed one thousand meals per day.

“All personnel and equipment have been recalled from Texas and Florida to make sure this three state Division is taken care of,” said Terry Lightheart, Emergency/Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. “We are tired from serving after Harvey and Irma, but we know the Lord give us strength to meet needs wherever it may be.

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane 2017” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

The Salvation Army alerts all units to standby with strengthening, predicted track of Nate

Jackson, MS – As tropical depression 16 strengthened into Tropical Storm Nate Thursday, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi is placing all units within the three-state division on standby. Officials have also recalled equipment and personnel from disaster assignments in other states as Nate is forecast to make landfall Sunday.

“Our officers, staff, volunteers, and equipment have served residents in other areas with live and kindness in their time of need,” said Terry Lightheart, Emergency/Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. “Now with Nate, we need them.

Nate is the third storm to impact the Southeast in the last two months following Harvey and Irma. Local Salvation Army Commands and Corps are prepping for response should the need arise by contacting local and county emergency officials and stocking mobile feeding units or canteens with meals, water, and snacks.

“We are ready for whatever Nate may bring,” said Major Gary Sturdivant, Mississippi Gulf Coast Command. “I spoke with local officials, and they know we are ready to serve food and drinks, plus provide emotional and spiritual care to those who may be affected.”

Even with several officers, staff and volunteers having previously served in Texas and Florida, teams and equipment are ready to move in once the storm moves through.

“As a precaution, we are moving our equipment to higher ground, so we are prepared if needed,” said Major Ernest Hull, New Orleans command. “The last few weeks were extremely busy, but our job is serve where we are needed the most. If there is damage or flooding, The Salvation Army will be there to help.”

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

Following Irma work, I’m thankful for family

Walking into an area affected by disaster, you never know what to expect. There’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot you can’t control. In a way, you become like those you’ve come to help.

The one thing you can control is how you react to those in need. Our incident commander, Major Ernest Hull, New Orleans Area Commander, reminded us each day, “You represent the light of Jesus to these people. Be that light.”

We did our best to be a light serving in a county that lost power to over 80 percent of its homes and businesses following Hurricane Irma.

For me, every child who waited for something to eat and drink at one of our trucks reminded me why I’m here. One resident told me how during the day you try to find shade to keep cool, but at night, you still have to sleep in a hot house. The rain was gone and the temperature was up near 90 each day.

Driving into one community followed by a canteen, I saw folks outside and rolled down my window.  A little boy, Mason, age 5 or 6, comes running up, “You guys are beautiful!”, he exclaims. I couldn’t have been more caught off guard. I had to get his picture. Mason was grateful for the food we were able to provide him, his father, and grandparents.

The next day, two little girls, maybe 10 and 6, I never asked their names. Our team handed them their food, and they sat down on the sidewalk to eat. I snapped a picture… smiling and thankful.

These eight days were made better by those smiling faces, and easier because of the people I work alongside in service to those in need.

In disaster situations, your team becomes your family. The commander becomes the father. On our team, Major Mary Meredith was the mother or “Mother Mary” as she was quickly nicknamed.

There were brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles even distant cousins from far-away places like Pennsylvania and Connecticut working out in the canteens. The longer we were there the more people were added, the crazier our family became…in a good way. All toll, we had officers, staff, and volunteers from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut!

There were arguments, laughter, teasing and even concern as several “family” members were injured or became sick.

One of our emotional and spiritual care “sisters” even brought two residents, a father and daughter, to know Jesus as their personal savior.

At the end of the day, we seemed to always eat dinner together and tell stories or discuss our work.

I know not every disaster team is like this, but we seemed to be chosen to be together, to serve a purpose none of us could have served on our own.

The week we served in Sebring, Florida, The Salvation Army provided over 20,000 meals, drinks, and snacks, prayed with 410 people, and loaded 4,100 cases of water into vehicles.

I am thankful this family could be there.

Paychecks running out with many businesses still closed days after Irma, Army filling need

Sebring, FL. –In Highlands County, Florida, power is slowing being restored but for many it’s been five days in the sweltering heat with no air conditioning, no water and no ice. As if that wasn’t enough, many businesses have not reopened and hourly workers have no new income.

Melissa Gage is one of those workers.

“Out of power since Sunday, it just seems like it keeps getting hotter,” said Gage. “My paycheck ran out so we are here for a meal and some water.

Gage picked up six hot meals for her family just like several hundred other local residents in and around Sebring. The Salvation Army will top ten thousand meals served in Highlands County on their fifth day of service.

Ashley Ivey and her husband have two young girls. It’s been hard for them as well without power.

“They told us it would be Tuesday by midnight(for power to be restored),” said Ivey. “But our daughters have suffered heat exhaustion, they’re allergic to mosquitos too so it’s difficult right now.

Ivey said she explained to her daughters about the storm that, “this is what happens when you live in Florida.”

For many, the sooner the power can be restored, the better. The Salvation Army will remain in place to fill any needs for several days once the power does return.

22 workers from 6 states in Sebring, Florida with One Goal…Bringing Hope

Sebring, FL – Hectic doesn’t begin to describe the last three weeks for The Salvation Army across the southern United States. Two major hurricanes in Harvey and Irma, and potentially a third in Maria. Canteen crews, staff, volunteers and equipment from all over the country have converged on Texas and Florida, and will for the forseeable future. That makes for some pretty interesting staffing situations.

Like here in Sebring, Florida, officers, staff and volunteers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida are working side by side to prepare and distribute thousands of meals and drinks each day.

“I think it’s great,” said Victor Rutledge, who manages the Kentucky-Tennessee Division’s summer camp, Camp Paradise Valley. “To work with folks from other areas, connect with them, that’s the neat part of this.”

With this assignment, Rutledge ran into now McComb, Mississippi Corps Officer, Lieutenant Thomas Marion. Rutledge served as Marion’s summer camp counselor several years ago. They haven’t seen each other in eight years. Lieutenant Marion says the combination of staff from across the South and the country doesn’t have that big of an effect of the operation.

“We are all here for the same goal. It doesn’t matter where they’re from. It’s fun hearing the different accents,” said Lieutenant Marion.

In Sebring, first time disaster volunteer, Laderious Dowell from Memphis, Tennessee is working side by side with experienced veteran, Ronnie Cicchitto from Tampa, Florida who is serving meals from a mobile feeding truck in his forth disaster.

“We all work good together,” said Cicchitto. “Everyone helping the residents in ways only The Salvation Army can.”

The way the people feel when they see how much we care, they were saying we are the only people who do care for them,” said Dowell.

In the four days of service since the team has arrived in Sebring, Florida, nearly ten thousand meals have been served to Highlands County.

Officer’s prayer bracelets open conversation leading to salvation

Sebring, FL (September 16, 2017) – Emotional and spiritual care during disaster and emergency situations is why The Salvation Army stands out after the unthinkable happens. Not only do survivors need their physical needs taken care of, but just having someone to talk to can make all the difference.

Meridian, Mississippi Corps Officer, Major Young Soon Kim, on deployment in Sebring, Florida, takes a unique approach. She makes prayer bracelets from yarn and hands them out as she ministers to those coming to canteens for food and water.

“Making these bracelets is a hobby of mine,” said Major Kim. “I was packing to serve in Florida, and saw the yarn, so I thought it could be a tool I use to spread the gospel.”

Turns out her forethought was correct. Major Kim noticed a family of three waiting in their car for a hot meal as the mobile feeding truck set up to serve.

“We started talking and I heard their stories, how they were hurting,” said Major Kim. “I asked if they are Christians. The mother quickly said, ‘I am, but they’re not.’

Major Kim showed the family her bracelets…blue, red, and yellow interwoven together. Major Kim explained they are Salvation Army colors but also represent the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“The father told me he knew about the Trinity, but it wasn’t coming to his heart, because he had to be baptized,” said Major Kim. “I told him the story of the two men next to Jesus on the cross.”

Major Kim asked him if he thought the criminal next to Jesus was baptized. Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’

“I tied the bracelet on his wrist and told him, nothing is blocking you now,” said Major Kim. “So, we prayed, and as soon as we finished, his daughter said, ‘I need to be saved too.’”

So, they got out of their car, held hands and Major Kim prayed one more time, this time with the daughter.

Major disasters, like Hurricane Irma, can turn lives upside down. We know feeding the body is the immediate need, but feeding the spirit makes all the difference in putting lives back together.

 

Residents grateful to see Salvation Army truck, thankful for food and drink

Avon Park, FL (September 15, 2017) – In Avon Park and much of Highlands County power has been out since Hurricane Irma blew through taking many power lines and poles with her. Residents spend their days outside their houses simply because it gets too hot. Ice is over an hour away, and many don’t have money to spend on gas to drive back and forth. So, they wait.

“Right now, everything is happening in other places,” said Stacy Teague, Avon Park resident. “We don’t have gas, ice, a lot of things we need.”

Friday, The Salvation Army mobile feeding truck showed up with hot meals and drinks.

“You guys are a blessing, coming to Avon Park,” said Teague.

Those needing food quickly stepped in line thankful for the meal. Maria Jimenez lives just across the street from where The Salvation Army set up and brought her grand-daughters.

“It’s a joy,” said Jimenez. “It’s a blessing The Salvation Army can help those who can’t get a meal at home.”

Luckily, Jimenez has a gas stove at home and can boil water. Many residents like the Riveria’s need electricity for everything in their home. The Riveria’s were happy to see The Salvation Army truck pull up.

“It feels good,” said Iodalis Riveria, helping translate for her grandmother, Naomi Riveria. “Our food has spoiled. Basically, we come out every day looking for food.”

Out of the Sebring, Florida Corps, The Salvation Army is serving food, drinks, and providing emotional and spiritual care in Avon Park, Lake Placid, and in Sebring.

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

Partnership helps The Salvation Army in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi deploy needed resources to Florida following Irma

JACKSON, MS – When helping thousands in need following two major hurricanes, it is vital to have the support of community organizations and local businesses inside and outside the impacted area.

“Even as large as The Salvation Army is with its many officers, staff and volunteers, no one organization can do the job alone,” said Terry Lightheart, Director of Emergency Disaster Services for the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division

The Florida Division of The Salvation Army made a request to the ALM Division for a 53′ field kitchen which can provide up to 10,000 meals during disaster relief operations. With so many Salvation Army assets deployed in Texas and Florida, the ALM Division found itself short on drivers and trucks to haul the needed resource. After a few phone calls, a local trucking company, Total Transportation, willingly filled the need.

“The Salvation Army has been blessed with so many partnerships before and during Harvey and Irma,” said Lightheart. “This company really stepped up when we needed them so we want to make sure we highlight their efforts.”

Total Transportation provided the driver and truck to haul the trailer.

“Total Transportation of MS, LLC is privileged to serve alongside the Salvation Army during a time of need after Hurricane Irma,” said John D. Stomps, President and CEO of Total Transportation of MS. “With 1300 employees representing our organization, over 125 of Total’s office staff and drivers live in the state of Florida.”

Stomps says The Salvation Army and Total Transportation play an important role in helping Florida’s recovery after Irma.

“During times of disaster, the Salvation Army is a guiding light to many people’s lives and Total Transportation of MS along with the trucking industry will be there to ensure those needs are met,” said Stomps.

Total’s driver delivering the field kitchen is Thomas Crysler who is a Florida native.

 

The Salvation Army establishing feeding services for Highlands County, Florida following Irma

Sebring, FL  – With Hurricane Irma damage still obvious all across the area, The Salvation Army is working in Highlands County, Florida to meet the immediate needs of residents still without power days after the storm. Water, ice, and a hot meal are all priorities.

“We do have some challenges right now, but we have three feeding trucks at our disposal and those will be out in the county beginning Wednesday,” said Major Ernest Hull, Incident Commander.

The incident command team lead by Major Hull from New Orleans is from the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division and the Kentucky-Tennessee Division.

Sebring Corps Officer, Major Tim Roberts has seen the damage and is helping identify the subdivisions who need a meal, a bottle of water, or just someone who can help.

“We know folks are hurting that’s why we have these crews in town,” said Major Roberts. “The Salvation Army will be here as long as it takes to get things back to normal.

Emotional and Spiritual Care officers will be accompanying mobile feeding trucks to offer encouragement, a pat on the back or a hug.

“We want to minister to the physical needs, but also the spiritual ones, because living without power after you’ve lost so much can be difficult,” said Major Hull. “We want them to know they are not alone in their recovery.”

The Salvation Army will be providing meals at the Sebring Corps location at 3135 Kenilworth Boulevard. Staff will also be assessing damage in Avon Park and Lake Placid to determine feeding locations in those areas.

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

The Salvation Army in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi serving on two fronts waiting for Irma

JACKSON, MS – The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi is working to help residents affected by Harvey in Texas as well as evacuees leaving Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma. Currently, twelve mobile feeding trucks or canteens with staff are working to provide food, drinks, snacks and emotional and spiritual care in several parts of Texas.

As of Friday evening, The Salvation Army in Dothan and Selma, Alabama will be supporting shelters through food service for Florida residents leaving their homes in front of Irma.

“This is an unprecedented month with two major hurricanes expected to make landfall,” said Terry Lightheart. Emergency/Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. “This is an all hands-on deck situation for equipment and personnel from across the South and nation. This division will be providing both equipment and personnel to Texas and in Florida.”

The ALM Division is expected to send specialized equipment to Florida following Hurricane Irma including a communication trailer designed to aid communication with the storm potentially knocking out power, cell service and wireless internet.

“Communication is vital so we can help the most residents. This trailer allows us to keep the lines of communication open with our personnel so we can meet the needs of those affected by the storm,” said Lightheart.

The Salvation Army will also provide food, emotional and spiritual care, and comfort kits to areas affected the most following the storm.

“This is our most vital service and what people expect when they see the shield on our trucks. To get into the most devastated areas with food, drinks and a simple conversation means a great deal to those who have lost so much during these terrible storms,” said Lightheart.

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

Joint effort from two Salvation Army Divisions means hope for Harvey survivors in Southeast Texas

Lake Charles, LA – What do you get when you combine the letters A-L-M and K-T? For those in Southeast Texas who have seen flood waters rise due to Harvey making landfall a second time, these letters spell H-O-P-E.

Two divisions of The salvation Army, Kentucky-Tennessee and Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, are combining to provide food, drinks and emotional and spiritual care to hundreds of residents cut off since Wednesday. Interstate 10 from Louisiana to Texas has been close to traffic following the storm.

The Kentucky-Tennessee Division’s, Major Roy Williams says they know their target city of Beaumont, Texas is without water, and The Salvation Army Corps in Port Authur, Texas has been damaged by water.

“At this point, we are sending one truck to find out what the situation is in Port Authur, Orange and Beaumont,” said Major Williams. “We want to see for ourselves before we deploy the canteens at our disposal.”

For canteen crews, they are ready to get in the affected area and help the residents in need. The Jackson, Mississippi Corps has a canteen and a catering truck in Lake Charles with three crew members. Sherman Sanders, a ten-year employee of the Jackson Corps, says he prepared to help now, but understand why they are delayed.

“We have to make sure of our safety, said Sanders. “We want to help people, but make sure we have a safe path to them.”

Crew member, Chris White says he and his team want to bring a blessing to those in need after Harvey.

“I haven’t been through what they are going through,” said White. “To help others is a blessing, and just put a smile on their faces.”

“It’s in our hearts. This could be us one day, and we would want other to help us,” said Sanders.

This team has six feeding trucks to serve those in need.

 

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

Salvation Army officers doing the most good as evacuees move into Louisiana

Lake Charles, LA – With most of the nation’s attention on Houston and Southeast Texas following Hurricane Harvey, Lake Charles, Louisiana as well as other cities in the state have seen a number of evacuees crossing state lines in search of a safe place to stay until the flood waters recede. Salvation Army officers, working alongside partner organizations, are helping care for hundreds in the shelter at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

“The original plan was for our canteen truck to support shelters in the area with hot meals,” said Lieutenant Richard Watts, Lake Charles Corps Officer. “The city and churches quickly realized that one consolidated shelter was the best option.”

Lieutenant Watts, with the help of 80 volunteers, has managed meals three times a day for up to 1200 evacuees and residents driven from their homes by Harvey. Lieutenant Watts says it sounds like a daunting task, but the community has come together to make sure all those in need are helped.

“We have rallied as a community, and you can’t ask for more than that,” said Lieutenant Watts.

Lieutenant Watts also received a helping hand from Alexandria Corps Officer, Major Glenn Riggs, who provided emotional and spiritual care for the shelter.

“It’s been about comforting,” said Major Riggs. “I’ve cried a little, encouraged, empathized with them, even though you couldn’t possible know what they are going through.”

Major Riggs estimates he’s prayed and encouraged nearly 300 folks in this shelter. He says he’s spoken with some who have lost loved ones and their homes from the storm.

“They are pleased with the care they’ve received here, and even with the uncertainty, in fairly good spirits,” said Major Riggs.

More evacuees are expected in cities across Louisiana according to officials because flood gates will have to be opened to release the built-up water.

 

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555