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

Federal emergency declaration issued for 5 LA parishes, state EOC begins 24-hour operations

JACKSON, MS (August 28, 2017) – As forecasts for Tropical Storm Harvey predict the future path the storm may take, The Salvation Army stands ready in Louisiana and neighboring states. The Louisiana Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is now monitoring Harvey 24 hours a day. The Salvation Army Division Liaison Coordinator, Bill Feist, will deploy to the EOC tomorrow to coordinate with state and non-governmental organizations to identify opportunities for The Salvation Army to provide disaster relief to affected communities.

“Our liason works shoulder to shoulder with state, county and local agencies to coordinate mass care needs such as food and hydration.” said Terry Lightheart, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Emergency/Disaster Services Director. “Coordination and communication is so important because no single agency can help everyone who is or may be in need.”

The federal emergency declaration is for Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vermilion parishes in southern Louisiana. Although torrential rain has already fallen, state officials are expecting upwards of ten to fifteen inches more in the coming days.

“Much like Texas, the National Weather Service is reporting the main threat for the southwest portion of Louisiana as flooding.” said Lightheart. “We also have been monitoring threats from isolated tornadoes.”

The Salvation Army is prepared to respond when needed. Currently, 29 canteens or mobile feeding trucks are on standby with personnel.

“Whether disaster relief needs are in Louisiana or Texas, we are ready. The mobile feeding units are stocked and personnel are prepared to deploy.” 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

The Salvation Army in Louisiana, Mississippi standing by if Harvey moves east, 29 canteens ready to respond

JACKSON, MS – As Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a category four hurricane with 130 miles per hour winds, The Salvation Army in Louisiana and Mississippi must wait to see if Harvey turns back to the east. Officers, staff and volunteers across the three state Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division (ALM) are prepared to respond should that happen.

“We still are anticipating flooding here in Lake Charles,” said Lieutenant Richard Watts, Lake Charles, Louisiana Corps Officer. “The potential for severe weather will be with us into next week, so we are working with our local partners to make sure our community is prepared.”

A state of emergency has been declared by the Louisiana governor. The National Weather Service models for Southwest Louisiana show locations where up to twenty inches of rain could fall over the next week.

“We are asking the public and our personnel to be diligent,” said Terry Lightheart, Emergency/Disaster Services Director, ALM Division. “Just because Harvey has come ashore in Texas doesn’t mean this is over. We expect this to be at least a week-long event before we can determine Harvey’s impact here.”

The Salvation Army has 29 canteens or mobile feeding trucks stocked with water, snacks and food ready to respond if needed.

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

ALM Canteens on Standby for Harvey

disaster prep

JACKSON, MS – With Tropical Depression Harvey moving back into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi (ALM) is preparing for the severe weather Harvey might bring to the Gulf Coast. Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army ALM, Terry Lightheart says there is a strong likelihood Harvey could grow stronger as it moves through the Gulf.

“We are monitoring the storm closely,” said Lightheart. “We have all our canteens or mobile feeding trucks and personnel on standby to respond if we are needed.”

Lightheart says Harvey is expected to impact the coastlines of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi within the next two to five days.

“Right now, we believe the biggest threat is from flooding, so we are asking residents to stay alert to their local weather reports,” said Lightheart. “And remember, large amounts of can fall in a short amount of time and flooding can impact communities quickly, especially in low lying areas.”

Lieutenant Richard Watts is Corps Officer at the Lake Charles, Louisiana Salvation Army. At this time, Southwest Louisiana is expected to receive heavy rain from Harvey.

“We have our canteen ready to respond when called upon,” said Lieutenant Watts. “We are staying in touch with local partners so we can work together to provide the best service should our community be affected. We know rain is on the way. What we don’t know is how much.”

The Salvation Army is working with state emergency officials monitoring Tropical Depression Harvey as it moves closer to the coast. The Salvation Army is prepared to provide food, drinks, and emotional and spiritual care to communities affected by the storm in the coming days.

Salvation Army enters 2nd week of feeding after military plane crash

Itta Bena, MS – The Salvation Army, Greenwood Corps will continue feeding military personnel and law enforcement for a second week as the investigation and recovery operation is ongoing in Leflore County, Mississippi. Fifteen Marines and one naval corpsman were killed when their KC-130 military plane crashed last Monday afternoon.

“The Marines are still here, law enforcement is still here, so The Salvation Army will be here as long as there is need,” said Lieutenant Jamaal Ellis, Greenwood, Mississippi Corps Officer.

The Salvation Army began feeding Tuesday. Over the weekend, the transition was made to provide breakfast and lunch while local churches provide dinner. The Salvation Army also uses its mobile feeding truck to serve snacks and provide hydration to personnel at the crash site.

“We are working with the area Southern Baptist Association, Mississippi Valley State University and several churches, said Lt. Ellis. “This is just a bunch of folks coming together to help our military, our emergency responders and our law enforcement as they work in the extreme heat.”

So far, in the six days The Salvation Army has served in Leflore County, we have provided 1,773 meals, 2,800 drinks, 575 snacks and prayed with six individuals. With our officers, volunteers and employees have worked 174 hours.