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.
As the first potential hurricane of 2019 brews in the Gulf of Mexico, The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi Division disaster personnel are working closely with local and state emergency management officials to monitor the situation.
Severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings, and localized flooding have already occurred in New Orleans. The National Hurricane Center is predicting similar conditions to continue over the next 48-72 hours as the system tracks along the coastline from Mississippi to Texas and many parts inland.
The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services disaster relief includes providing food, water, and emotional and spiritual care to residents in the affected areas and first responders.
Ruston, LA (April 26, 2019) — The Salvation Army has deployed three mobile feeding units to Ruston after a tornado ripped through that community yesterday morning, resulting in a considerable amount of debris from damaged commercial buildings, residential homes, and downed powerlines and trees. The city is home to Louisiana Tech which has a student population of approximately 12,000. The school experienced damage to its field house and a significant amount of debris scattered around campus.
In the aftermath of the storm, debris removal teams are in force to help bring some normalcy back to the community. The three Salvation Army mobile feeding units from Alexandria, Monroe and Shreveport will also be out in force today to provide meals, snacks and hydration to affected residents and debris removal teams. Captain Jerome “Jerry” Casey of the Monroe Corps is serving as Incident Commander and has been on the scene with the Monroe unit since early yesterday. He stated, “We’re meeting a lot of grateful people and they’re glad that we’re here. Some of them don’t understand why this happened. So we’re doing some spiritual nourishing as well as physical.” said Captain Casey. “There’s a community that’s hit, there’s a school that’s hit, there’s businesses that’s hit. So, we’re serving a lot of people in different situations,” he said.
Yesterday, The Salvation Army provided 160 meals, 160 drinks, and 250 snacks to tornado survivors in Ruston. The Salvation Army’s service to the Ruston community continues today.
Hamilton, MS (April 14,2019)— The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division experienced a round of severe weather beginning Saturday, April 13, 2019 which has left a path of destruction throughout the three states to include downed trees and power lines, flash flooding and structural damage to more than a few communities.
Now that the system has exited the Division and moved into Georgia, Salvation Army representatives are assessing the current and future needs of the affected areas with local emergency management.
Thus far, the most severely damaged area lies in the rural community of Hamilton, Mississippi located in Monroe County. This close-knit community was struck by a tornado on Saturday evening, resulting in one confirmed fatality. The area is served by the Columbus Mississippi Salvation Army Corps which operates at the command of Lieutenant Christian Smith.
Unfortunately, Lt. Smith is no stranger to tornadoes. His own community was struck by an EF-3 tornado on February 24, 2019. For the February event, Lt. Smith quickly mobilized the Corps mobile feeding unit to provide snacks, hydration and emotional and spiritual care for Columbus residents. Once again, he is coordinating efforts to provide similar service delivery for Hamilton residents.
Lieutenant Smith reports, “As an ordained minister and a resident of north Mississippi, it is my honor to serve those affected by such a devastating storm. It is amazing how a snack or hot meal received from the hands of those who care not only nourishes the body, but the soul.”
A two-person team and mobile feeding unit from Tupelo, MS is also en route to support the efforts of the Columbus Corps.
Across the state line in Alabama the Salvation Army Dothan and Montgomery Corps will be serving along with the Pike County Service Center to provide service delivery in the community of Troy, Alabama.
(Photo is courtesy of Tupelo Corps: Lt. Thomas Johnson and Mr. William Archie preparing the mobile feeding unit with supplies)
To donate to The Salvation Army’s tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.
Lee County, Alabama (March 25, 2019)— The Salvation Army’s emergency response to the Lee County tornado outbreak of March 3, 2019, has transitioned to the long-term recovery phase. After serving from day one of the tornado outbreak—providing food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual care to tornado survivors, first responders, and volunteers—The Salvation Army is continuing to serve affected residents through partnerships with local emergency management and the Lee County Long-Term Coalition.
The Coalition meets to identify unmet needs and determine how the resources of volunteer agencies can be best utilized to meet the continued or on-going needs of the affected communities. Thus far, The Salvation Army has participated and contributed to the recovery by ensuring that survivors have food, household goods and hygiene items. “In partnership with other community organizations, we will continue receiving tornado survivors to address their needs,” said Annabelle Tsui, Salvation Army Lee County Service Center Director. “It is truly blessing to witness wounded hearts and communities being mended through the volunteer efforts of The Salvation Army and many other partner organizations,” she continued.
To donate to The Salvation Army’s tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.
Beauregard, AL (March 8, 2019)— President Trump toured the tornado ravaged Beauregard community on Friday, and The Salvation Army was on hand, ready to serve survivors, volunteers, and work crews. The level of security required for a presidential visit meant that the highly secured disaster area was locked down tight until the president concluded his visit, but The Salvation Army was on the scene—ready and eager to get back into the area and back to helping the people.
As soon as the area was cleared for those granted access there, which still isn’t open to the general public, The Salvation Army canteen (mobile feeding unit) was in high gear, grilling hamburgers, hotdogs, and chicken for the people doing the massive ongoing cleanup effort. “Some of the people that we served said that it was just what they needed. That it was a godsend because God knows exactly what to send at the right time. We were there to fill that need,” said Lieutenant Bryan Farrington, who was working at the canteen as soon as people were allowed back into the area.
“I think it’s wonderful because I thought I was about to starve to death,” said Eric Bush, who took a break to eat a burger from the canteen. Eric is volunteering to help a friend, using his tractor to remove limbs from what’s left of his friend’s home. “It is awesome to see the presence of The Salvation Army helping feed people, and everybody just here to work, to try to pitch in and make a difference. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing—if you’re cooking hamburgers or moving limbs or picking up trash—it takes everybody,” Eric added.
As the weekend approaches, with Sunday marking one week since lives in this community were changed forever, emotional and spiritual care was again the greatest need. “It was good to be able to love on the people who were most affected by the storm and to hear their stories. To be able to share God’s love, to help them smile for a minute, to relieve some of the stress and strain. Words can’t describe what you actually see there, but it’s very rewarding to have an impact, to brighten their day for a moment and encourage somebody while they’re going through the midst of their trials,” said Lt. Farrington.
“This may seem impossible, but through faith it is possible. Through faith all things are possible,” said Napoleon Darby, resident of the hardest-hit area of Lee County. Napoleon’s home is destroyed. His is a tight-knit community with mostly family members as neighbors, and some members of his family didn’t survive the storm. There‘s a distinct heaviness in the air, and you can hear the deep pain in his quiet voice, but he refuses to let himself sink into despair. He’s choosing to focus on the good. Napoleon met President Trump on his tour of the area Friday, and it left a positive impression on him. “I shook his hand and talked to him, shook his wife’s hand,” Napoleon said.
Of his visit with Salvation Army officers on the same day he met the president, Napoleon says, “This is a testament that there are lots of nice people that care about people in the world. It’s easy to concentrate on the hate in the world but when you get exposed to the love in the world you have to lean more towards that.”
Beauregard, AL (March 8, 2019)— An exhaustive search and rescue effort after Sunday’s deadly EF-4 tornado that caused a reported 23 fatalities in Lee County ended on Wednesday, March 4, 2019, and homeowners and volunteer/relief agencies were finally allowed into the hardest-hit area of Beauregard. The Salvation Army is serving meals and providing emotional and spiritual care in Beauregard as crews are diligently working on the massive cleanup effort and homeowners are scouring the wreckage for anything they can save. With total devastation as far as the eye can see, emotions are raw and the emotional and spiritual care component of The Salvation Army’s service fills a great need. “I couldn’t ask for a more awesome person to come sit with us and pray with us yesterday, that meant the world to us, and there are no words,” said Janet Baugh, a Beauregard resident who found comfort and encouragement in a visit from Major Bradley Caldwell on Wednesday. Major Caldwell made sure to stop by again on Thursday to check on Janet and make sure she was doing well. Despite the hardships, she seemed to be filled with hope and a sense of purpose and determination to make it through this difficult time.
Lieutenant Bryan Farrington paused his duties at the canteen (mobile feeding unit) to pray with Shanikia Buchannon, a Beauregard resident whose joy about her upcoming wedding is now laced with concern for her friends and neighbors. “I just thank God that my family was safe, but my heart is hurting for my friends. I have two close friends, even one of my friends who is in my wedding, she lost everything. And the other one lost everything plus a child, so I can only imagine what they’re going through,” Shanikia said. “For Salvation Army to pray for me, it really means a lot. I’m a praying woman and I know prayer changes things,” Shanikia added.
The Salvation Army will continue to serve in Beauregard again today—providing physical refreshment through serving meals and drinks, and emotional and spiritual nourishment by lending a compassionate ear to listen, shoulder to cry on, or sincere prayer for anyone in need. To date, The Salvation Army has provided 1,995 meals, 1,439 drinks, 1,573 snacks, and emotional and spiritual care to 146 individuals in response to the devastaing Lee County tornado.
To donate to The Salvation Army’s tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.
Smiths Station, AL (March 7, 2019)— The Salvation Army continues to be a light of help and hope for those affected by the recent devastating Southeast Alabama tornadoes. On Wednesday, March 6, that help took the form of setting up a canteen (mobile feeding unit) at the Lee County Emergency Management Agency’s Volunteer Reception Center that has been established at Smiths Station Baptist Church. Those wishing to volunteer with the county can drop into the center, receive training and an assignment, and head out to do their volunteer work. The Salvation Army is on hand to provide meals, beverages and snacks to those volunteers, and in many cases, to the people the volunteers are heading out to serve.
“I’m just very grateful the tornado hit half a mile from my home in two different directions. It went over my house. I’m very grateful to the Lord that I didn’t get hurt, and I just want to help those that are,” said Yvette Greene, a county volunteer who loaded up her car with meals from The Salvation Army canteen to share with those already in the field. Another volunteer, Tricia Harm, mother of seven, brought four of her children who are old enough to volunteer to the center on Wednesday, to serve those hurting in their community. Tricia and her teenage children came to The Salvation Army canteen for lunch before heading out to their volunteer assignment. “We are volunteering to help clean up, because it’s our town. We’re a military family, but it’s our town. The kids wanted to help and this is what we can do, so this is what we’ll do,” said Tricia.
The Salvation Army is proud to provide for tornado survivors and those who are volunteering to serve their hurting neighbors. To date, The Salvation Army has provided 1,495 meals, 619 drinks, 1,143 snacks, and emotional and spiritual care to 71 individuals. To donate to tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.
Smiths Station, AL (March 6, 2019)— The Salvation Army is serving the Smiths Station community today, where cleanup efforts are well underway in this area that suffered major damage from Sunday’s tornado outbreak. Serving meals, drinks, and snacks from a fixed location at Smiths Station Baptist Church, The Salvation Army will also be offering much needed emotional and spiritual care to tornado survivors.
A Salvation Army mobile feeding unit will also roam the surrounding area, providing similar services. “Today, The Salvation Army’s mission is to provide relief to those who are suffering because of this horrific event in a manner which provides hope for the tomorrows,” said Major Bradley Caldwell, Salvation Army Emotional & Spiritual Care Officer.
To date, The Salvation Army has provided 1,050 meals, 670 snacks, 450 drinks, 20 personal hygiene kits, 25 backpacks, and emotional and spiritual care to 22 individuals in response to the deadly tornado that struck Lee County, AL on Sunday, March 3, 2019. To donate to The Salvation Army’s tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.
Opelika, AL (March 4, 2019)— After the historic and devastating tornado outbreak that occurred in the Southeast on Sunday, March 3, 2019, The Salvation Army is responding by sending a full Incident Command Team to Opelika, AL. Hardest hit by the outbreak was the mostly rural area of Lee County. Major William Shafer from The Salvation Army Tuscaloosa Corps will arrive today to serve as the Incident Commander. He will be supported by a six member team of Salvation Army representatives from Anniston, Birmingham, Montgomery and Jackson, Mississippi.
In the immediate hours following the storm, The Salvation Army Lee County Service Center provided 200 meals to first responders. Lieutenants Bryan and Tonya Farrington from The Salvation Army Montgomery Corps also deployed to the area Sunday evening with their mobile feeding unit to assist the local Service Extension Center Director. Service delivery will continue throughout Lee County today and include the distribution of hot meals, snacks, and beverages served from six mobile feeding units. Other than Montgomery, the mobile feeding units are deploying into the area from Anniston, Birmingham, and Biloxi, Mississippi.
In addition to tending to the physical needs of those affected, The Salvation Army is providing emotional and spiritual care, which is expected to be a significant need in the wake of this especially cruel and deadly disaster. The National Weather Service reports that more tornado deaths occurred from this one outbreak than in all of 2018. Please keep the tornado survivors as well as first responders in your prayers. Donations to the tornado relief can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org.