Following Irma work, I’m thankful for family

Walking into an area affected by disaster, you never know what to expect. There’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot you can’t control. In a way, you become like those you’ve come to help.

The one thing you can control is how you react to those in need. Our incident commander, Major Ernest Hull, New Orleans Area Commander, reminded us each day, “You represent the light of Jesus to these people. Be that light.”

We did our best to be a light serving in a county that lost power to over 80 percent of its homes and businesses following Hurricane Irma.

For me, every child who waited for something to eat and drink at one of our trucks reminded me why I’m here. One resident told me how during the day you try to find shade to keep cool, but at night, you still have to sleep in a hot house. The rain was gone and the temperature was up near 90 each day.

Driving into one community followed by a canteen, I saw folks outside and rolled down my window.  A little boy, Mason, age 5 or 6, comes running up, “You guys are beautiful!”, he exclaims. I couldn’t have been more caught off guard. I had to get his picture. Mason was grateful for the food we were able to provide him, his father, and grandparents.

The next day, two little girls, maybe 10 and 6, I never asked their names. Our team handed them their food, and they sat down on the sidewalk to eat. I snapped a picture… smiling and thankful.

These eight days were made better by those smiling faces, and easier because of the people I work alongside in service to those in need.

In disaster situations, your team becomes your family. The commander becomes the father. On our team, Major Mary Meredith was the mother or “Mother Mary” as she was quickly nicknamed.

There were brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles even distant cousins from far-away places like Pennsylvania and Connecticut working out in the canteens. The longer we were there the more people were added, the crazier our family became…in a good way. All toll, we had officers, staff, and volunteers from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut!

There were arguments, laughter, teasing and even concern as several “family” members were injured or became sick.

One of our emotional and spiritual care “sisters” even brought two residents, a father and daughter, to know Jesus as their personal savior.

At the end of the day, we seemed to always eat dinner together and tell stories or discuss our work.

I know not every disaster team is like this, but we seemed to be chosen to be together, to serve a purpose none of us could have served on our own.

The week we served in Sebring, Florida, The Salvation Army provided over 20,000 meals, drinks, and snacks, prayed with 410 people, and loaded 4,100 cases of water into vehicles.

I am thankful this family could be there.

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.


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 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.

Partnership Feeding Personnel at MS Plane Crash Site Continuing into Next Week

Partnership Feeding Personnel at MS Plane Crash Site Continuing into Next Week A KC-130 military plane carrying 16 Marines and crew crashed Monday afternoon in Leflore county, Mississippi killing all on board. The United States Marines along with emergency personnel from the Federal, state and local level are investigating and providing security to the crash site.

The Salvation Army, Greenwood, Mississippi Corps is partnering with the Southern Baptist Association to make sure all these responders are fed, hydrated and cared for while they work in the brutally hot temperatures of the Mississippi Delta.

“The Southern Baptist Association is very generous to help in this way,” said Lieutenant Jamaal Ellis, Greenwood, Mississippi Corps Officer. “They are cooking the meals, we load them on our truck, and deliver them.

Mississippi Valley State University is providing an air-conditioned building where the food can be served and those working at the crash site can cool off. Drinks and snacks are also served at the crash site. Local Churches are also providing assistance.

“We will be serving lunch and dinner starting Monday and continuing that as long as we are needed here, but we will continue our lunch service through the weekend,” said Lieutenant Ellis.

To this point, The Salvation Army has served over 1000 meals and 2000 drinks since Tuesday at lunch. and provided emotional and spiritual care to several individuals throughout the week.

“All these groups and organizations coming together to help our military and first responders really shows God’s grace in a time of terrible grief and loss for these families. Our prayers continue to be lifted up for their loss,” said Lieutenant Ellis.