The Salvation Army’s preparations for Tropical Storm Barry have been in full swing over the weekend, as staff and volunteers worked hard to get ready for the impact of the storm. Barry made landfall as a hurricane early Saturday afternoon near Intracoastal City, Louisiana, and quickly weakened back to tropical storm status. It’s still too early to breathe a collective sigh of relief, however, as the storm system is moving very slowly there is still the possibility of severe flooding. Tropical Storm Barry could potentially dump a tremendous amount of rain on already strained waterways. The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi (ALM) Division stands ready and prepared to serve as needed, with the bulk of activity so far being in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Terry Lightheart, the ALM Division Emergency Disaster Services Director stated, “Preparedness and partnerships are key to an effective disaster relief response and recovery. The Salvation Army seeks to “Do the Most Good” which includes providing much-needed resources to the communities where we serve in a time of need.”
Beginning on Friday, The Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans has been serving three meals a day from their mobile feeding unit (canteen) to local Department of Transportation employees who are stationed at Baby Cakes Field to inspect a fleet of buses on standby for evacuations. Lunch on Friday included sandwiches donated by Subway. The Salvation Army New Orleans Area Command also spent much of the day preparing their Center of Hope shelter for an expected increase of shelter residents as a result of the storm. Employees unloaded pallets of drinks donated by PepsiCo and moved them, along with water and other supplies, to the fourth floor of the shelter to prepare for the possibility of flooding.
The Baton Rouge Corps of The Salvation Army has also been busy in the community and at their shelter, taking full advantage of the lead-time that an event like this gives for preparation. “The good thing about hurricanes is you know they’re coming. You do get to prepare at least,” said Major Donald Tekautz, Baton Rouge Salvation Army Corps Officer. At the request of the Cajun Navy on Thursday, the Baton Rouge Salvation Army provided hydration at one of the main sandbagging locations in town. They also helped to fill sandbags and even sent Salvation Army volunteers to drop off sandbags to elderly residents who otherwise would not have been able to get them. The Baton Rouge Corps continued to help with sandbagging efforts on Friday and Saturday. The Salvation Army shelter in Baton Rouge was also a hub of storm prep over the weekend, with employees stocking the warehouse with disaster relief items such as bottled water, clean up kits, cots, and personal hygiene kits. Extra food was also put in place in the shelter kitchen in anticipation of a storm-related surge in shelter occupancy.
Disaster personnel from across The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi (ALM) Division are gearing up to respond to the effects of what is predicted to be the first hurricane of the season. The National Hurricane Center has reported the tropical system is expected to make landfall in the next 48 hours producing heavy rainfall and flooding.
Preparation for this event began days ago when the ALM Division placed as many as 28 Salvation Army units on standby. These units are prepared, as needed, to provide disaster relief equipment and personnel to affected areas along the Gulf Coast and affected areas inland. Service delivery will include the deployment of canteens stocked with meals, snacks and hydration and trained personnel to provide emotional and spiritual care. Each mobile feeding unit (canteen) has the capacity to provide anywhere from 500 to 1,000 meals per day.
To maintain situational awareness, The Salvation Army disaster personnel are working in close coordination with local and state emergency management partners which aids in the identification of the most affected areas and determination of entering that area when it is deemed safe to do so.
Terry Lightheart, the ALM Division Emergency Disaster Services Director stated, “Preparedness and partnerships are key to an effective disaster relief response and recovery. The Salvation Army seeks to “Do the Most Good” which includes providing much-needed resources to the communities where we serve in a time of need.”
For additional information, go to https://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/news/
If anyone wants to help, we are not accepting in-kind donations at this time. To make a financial contribution please go to helpsalvationarmy.org.
The Ketchams make a great team when it comes to disaster response. The father, son duo are one of the most experienced crews working in Baton Rouge this week following historic flooding throughout many parts of Southern Louisiana.
“I know how he wants things…I can anticipate what he wants,” said Ike Ketcham.
Dan drives and Ike navigates. They have worked as a team since Hurricane Gustav.
The pair moved to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit looking for work in construction. What they found was a way to help those in desperate need.
“We’ve had people try to pay us for the meals we give them off the canteen,” said Dan Ketcham. “I tell them I will only accept a handshake. You can see their surprise first, then the gratitude.”
Despite how “fluid” things seem to go on their canteen, their relationship hasn’t always been so smooth. Not too long ago, Dan was asked to read the bible scripture during church services at the New Orleans Salvation Army. He read from Luke 15…the story of the prodigal son.
“It took me a long time to read that cause my son was lost. I got choked up,” said Ketcham.
Ike saw what that scripture did to his father. Dan says he can’t explain what happened after that but Ike did a one eighty.
At one time, caught up in drugs and alcohol, Ike says The Salvation Army changed his life.
“The Salvation Army gave me the opportunity to change my life,” said Ike Ketcham. “I feel like I’m the luckiest person ever.”
Now, the Ketchams run their “ministry” out of a canteen each time they are called upon.
“I see how people are grateful, and the community is changed. It blows my mind every time we go out,” said Ike.
“The Salvation Army is a family, they welcomed me with open arms, and that’s what I do from the canteen,” says Dan.
To help those in these flooded areas across Southeast Louisiana, you can donate by going to http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/gulf_coast_floods.
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing 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. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.