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.”
Salvation Army locations across the Southern United States are preparing for a major relief effort as Hurricane Matthew continues its path towards the Florida coastline. The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi (ALM Division) is no different. Thursday the ALM Division is sending six mobile feeding units or canteens and a communications truck to Florida to be in place to support disaster relief operations following the expected landfall of Matthew.
“We have learned from past disasters that communication systems are vital for effective and timely disaster relief efforts,” said Terry Lightheart, Emergency, Disaster Services Director. “The mobile communications unit will provide The Salvation Army with the ability to communicate not only with Salvation Army personnel, but with our partners, externally to ensure we identify the areas most in need.”
The Salvation Army Southern Territory has placed equipment and personnel on standby in fifteen states to support the affected areas. Along with the equipment, the ALM Division is deploying fifteen disaster service personnel and volunteers. More resources are expected to be requested in the coming days.
“This storm has the potential to do major damage. If that’s the case, The Salvation Army will be there to provide meals, drinks, and emotional and spiritual care for those in need,” said Lightheart.
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation to The Salvation Army. Cash is flexible, can be used immediately in response to a crisis, and allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed.
To make a financial gift to The Salvation Army, give:
- Donate Online:http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/hurricane_matthew
- Donate By Mail:The Salvation Army PO BOX 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301 Please designate ‘Hurricane Matthew’ on all checks.
- Donate By Phone:1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
- Donate By Text:Text STORM to 51555 to receive a donation link for easy mobile giving
The Salvation Army is actively helping survivors of the “historic” flooding in West Virginia, but with more rain expected and so many residents in need, the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi (ALM) Division has accepted the request to send our Emergency/Disaster Service Director, Terry Lightheart and Baton Rouge Corps Officer, Captain Brett Meredith to help with The Salvation Army’s response.
“The Salvation Army rallies to those in need,” said Lightheart. “Right now, the greatest need in West Virginia is getting food, shelter, and emotional and spiritual care. We are working with government agencies, other relief organizations and thousands of volunteers. We have to work together to do all we can to help those affected get back to some normalcy as soon as possible.”
“The flooding has been devastating to the region, and as I prepare to go to the affected area, I pray that The Salvation Army and other organizations can provide comfort, care, and material assistance to those who may have lost everything,” states Captain Meredith.
The flooding began Thursday when nine inches or more of rain fell on parts of West Virginia in six to eight hours. Forty-four counties, primarily in the southeastern part of the state, were under a state of emergency on Thursday night.
In the first 72 hours, The Salvation Army provided more than 6,600 meals, nearly 3,400 snacks, and more 7,500 drinks to flood victims and emergency responders. These services will continue as long as needed and as requested by West Virginia County Emergency Operation Centers. As relief efforts continue, The Salvation Army anticipates widespread distribution of cleanup supplies and the initiation of case work after the July 4th holiday.
How people can help:
You can help by providing financial assistance to fund the flood relief work in West Virginia. Those who wish to support The Salvation Army’s disaster response may do so by sending a check earmarked “June 2016 West Virginia Floods” to their local Salvation Army office, online at http://tinyurl.com/zu6rn47, or by making a credit card donation at 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Be sure to designate the donation for the “June 2016 West Virginia Floods.”
Although The Salvation Army is not requesting in-kind goods donations at this time, gifts of gently-used household goods, clothing, etc., are always needed by Salvation Army Family Stores to support their work in the local community. Find out more at SAtruck.org, or call 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825).
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. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyalm.org.