An uncertain winter weather forecast materialized throughout the ALM Division during the week of February 14, 2021, resulting in back-to-back winter storms. Road conditions became treacherous, with overpasses and bridges beginning to ice. An all-time record was reached with seven consecutive days below 35 degrees, and on most of those days, temperatures were below freezing. The first storm system crippled much of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, resulting in road closures, traffic accidents, and power outages. Tens of thousands of residents were without power at the peak of the storm system, and many are still dealing with water pressure issues. The Salvation Army is committed to serving the most vulnerable members of our community, so our 24/7 cold weather shelters remained open as necessary to provide a safe environment.
Volunteers were recruited to comfort clients and assist shelters with public feedings.
“Those volunteers are living, breathing human beings who choose to be with the guests who are hurting, who are troubled in life quite often,” said Major Bradley Caldwell, Mississippi Gulf Coast Area Commanding Officer. “That person just sitting with them, and just hearing their story, giving them a smile makes a difference just as much as the food and the shelter do.”
“We have people that have found their way here and others who have been directed here by police or the hospital,” added Lieutenant Jamaal Ellis, Shreveport, Louisiana Corps Officer.
“We are here to serve.”
The Shreveport Corps also set out to find homeless people on the streets and coaxed them to come inside by offering hand warmers and hot chocolate.
Many regular shelters were full since COVID-19 restrictions cut their occupancy in half, so Corps turned to placing cots on whatever floor space they could find — socially distanced six feet apart.
“If anyone needed shelter from the weather, they could take refuge with us. We are here to serve,” stated Captain Wendy Deuel, Florence, Alabama Corps Officer.
“We’re moving stuff around. If there’s any space that we can safely put someone, we’re going to find it. If that means moving furniture around so that we can lay down another cot, that’s what we’re doing. We’ve had to repurpose a room just so that we can make that into a place where people can stay,” Lt. Ellis added.
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. Click here for more information on how The Salvation Army is helping your community.