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Disaster Services Director, Liason recognized for accomplishment

Our Emergency Disaster Services Director, Terry Lightheart and Disaster Liason, Bill Feist recognized as Certified Emergency Managers. Two of just a handful in The Southern Territory of The Salvation Army.

Terry and Bill have been approved by the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Certification Commission to receive the Certified Emergency Manager® (CEM®) credential.

The CEM® designation is the highest honor of professional achievement available from IAEM, which has in its membership more than 9,000 emergency managers representing professionals whose goals are saving lives and protecting property and the environment during emergencies and disasters.  Ms. Lightheart qualified as a CEM® by submitting an extensive credentials package giving personal and professional background achievements and successfully completing a Management Essay and a written examination.

Congratulations Terry and Bill!

Salvation Army canteens reaching areas under served following Hattiesburg tornado

Melissa and Mike Bagett

(Lamar County, MS) Looking around you wonder how anything is left standing. Very few trees are upright, and even fewer homes on a stretch of Sullivan-Kilrain Road in Lamar County, Mississippi just outside of Hattiesburg. Most of what was here is now scattered across several stretches of property. Residents were told this is where Saturday morning’s tornado touched down and began its path of destruction for fifteen more miles.

Melissa Bagett is looking for the hidden treasures of family pictures she might find through the piles of debris left behind. Melissa and her husband Mike were here when the tornado touch down just outside their home.

“I heard it come over the trees,” said Mike Bagett. “When they say get in the bath tub, get in the bath tub. It was over in five seconds but it left this.”

A portion of their roof was ripped off by the storm and vehicles were pushed several feet by the strong winds. Homes up and down this road experienced the same, but all walked away. Now they must rebuild or move like the Bagetts are doing. The Salvation Army was the first service organization to stop by and offer help in the form of meals and a friendly face.

“It means the world,” said Melissa Bagett. “We all are having to do a lot of work out here and don’t have time to eat. It’s appreciated.”

“It helps. It tells me the community understands you need sustenance after something like this,” said Mike Bagett.

Mike is right when he says community. These are local Salvation Army disaster volunteers from the Hattiesburg Corps dropping off several containers of food.

Hattiesburg Corps officers, Captains Patrick and Stacey Connelly have turned their attention to healing those devastated by the storms despite having lost the use of most of their facilities themselves.

“We are still in a state of shock, but we had to make sure we took care of the community that supports us,” said Captain Patrick Connelly.

Right now, the estimate to getting back in these buildings is six to nine months. For now, a portable office is already set up on the campus.

“We knew immediately we needed a game plan to run out social services, our Boys’ and Girls’ Club and to meet needs,” said Captain Stacey Connelly.

How People Can Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation to the charity of your choice. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Officers their attention on healing community, not destruction

In the minutes and hours that followed the Saturday morning tornado that ripped through Hattiesburg, Mississippi and The Salvation Army Corps, the Corps Officers couldn’t help but wonder what will the future bring…what next?

But the feeling wasn’t for themselves or even their Corps’ buildings which suffered extensive damage, it was for the community and those they help through the programs offered here.

“We had to make sure we took care of the community that supports us, because the damage through this area is wide ranging. It was just right here,” said Captain Patrick Connelly, Hattiesburg Corps Officer.

“We knew immediately we needed a game plan to run our social services our Boys and Girls Club and to meet needs,” said Captain Stacey Connelly, Hattiesburg Corps Officer.

Captain Ronnette Smith says helping others is just what Salvation Army officers do.

“That’s just who we are, who God made us to be. The “SS” on our uniforms stand for “saved to serve”,” said Captain Smith.

Captain Smith lived on campus until December. She hadn’t finished her move completely. Her on campus apartment was flooded when the storm ripped off the roof and burst a water pipe.

“I can’t describe it, it’s a surreal feeling. You know what it’s suppose to look like but it doesn’t anymore,” said Captain Smith.

Work continues on the facilities the day after the storm and progress has been made to make sure the roofs to every building are covered and won’t let more water in. It will be several more months, however until they will be usable.

“They are telling us six to nine months until we can move back in. A portable office has already arrived, so that will be where we work for now,” said Captain Stacey Connelly.

The officers here continue to get support from their fellow Salvation Army officers across the country whether it be by phone, text or social media, but it was one visit that meant the most. Majors Roy and Jackie Johnson arrived at the Corps just hours after the tornado Saturday. Captain Patrick has known Major Roy Johnson since he was five years old. The Major’s hug brought tears.

“It was just a sense of relief, just to know we were not alone.”

How People Can Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation to the charity of your choice. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

The Salvation Army responding, standing by should weather become serious over the weekend

The Salvation Army is already providing aid to residents affected by a round of severe storms moving across the southern part of our Division and first responders on the scene helping those in need. Salvation Army Officers, Majors Bert and Cristy Lind, with the Laurel, Mississippi Corps have deployed a mobile feeding unit to serve drinks and snacks in Mize, Mississippi.

Thursday afternoon the National Weather Service says an EF-2 tornado touched down near Magee in Simpson County and Mize in Smith County, both Southeast of Jackson, Mississippi. The storm toppled trees and power lines, plus damaged several homes and causing flash flooding.

Other Salvation Army Corps are on standby from Jackson to New Orleans to Mobile with more storms being forecast for this weekend. Currently, the National Weather Service is predicting severe weather throughout the weekend with the potential for more high wind and tornadic activity.

“The entire Division is on alert,” said Terry Lightheart, Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army’s Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division. “Equipment and personnel are ready to deploy and provide disaster relief services as needed.”

The Salvation Army will coordinate its response with state and local emergency management officials in order to provide for areas with the most need.

The Salvation Army providing warmth, place to stay as winter weather hits the South

Warming stations, shelters open and extending hours across Alabama and Mississippi

JACKSON, MS -With Winter Storm Helena pushing freezing temperatures, ice and snow into the Deep South, The Salvation Army is responding with a warm place to stay, a hot meal, and  supplies for those in need across Alabama and Mississippi.

The Tuscaloosa Corps opened a warming station Thursday evening as temperatures dropped. The Tuscaloosa’s Center of Hope has 73 beds available with the ability to take in up to 130 residents should the need arise. The warming station is expected to be open through the weekend.

“The Salvation Army has a safe, warm place to stay for those trying to get out of the cold, said Major William Shafer, Tuscaloosa Corps Officer. “If the weather continues into next week, we will keep our doors open as long as there is a need.”

In locations as far south as Biloxi, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama, The Salvation Army has opened its doors and is providing meals. In those locations, once the temperature drops below 40 degrees warming stations are open and shelters extend their hours to help all who don’t have a place to stay.

“”We will open our cold weather shelter with meals until the temperature is better,” said Major Mark Brown, Coastal Alabama Command Officer.

Even in places like Baton Rouge, where last August’s flooding left The Salvation Army without a shelter, officers and personnel will be moving through city streets offering blankets, soup, and coffee.

“The weather this past year has presented many challenges to our neighbors and even to us at The Salvation Army, and today is another challenge with the cold.  After losing all of our command facilities, The Salvation Army is still here to provide help and hope to those in our community,” said Captain Brett Meredith, Baton Rouge Corps Officer. “We will have two vehicles roaming through the city serving from 3pm through late in the evening.”

The Columbus, Mississippi Corps will also deploy a warmth patrol in their area serving hot chocolate, coffee and handing out blankets.

As the storm moves across Alabama, corps in Huntsville, Montgomery and Anniston, Alabama are ready to welcome those who need to get out of the dangerously cold temperatures.

Local residents in need can expect all our locations to include extended hours for shelter as well as hot meals and beverages available to those who need to escape the cold.

To find a Salvation Army Corps in your area, please call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or log onto our website at salvationarmyalm.org and click on LOCATIONS.

Salvation Army serving in Alabama communities devastated by overnight tornados

245(Jackson County, AL) A line of thunderstorms dropped several tornadoes across the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning. Six tornadoes were reported by emergency officials in Mississippi alone, but the most severe damage has been reported in Northeast Alabama near the towns of Rosalie and Ider.

“We loaded are canteen and were serving before sunrise. We’ve served 200 people so far,” said Tracey Ridgeway, Jackson County, Alabama Service Center Director.

Ridgeway says the winds picked up Tuesday afternoon and was followed by one tornado warning after another during the night. She says one of the main churches in Rosalie “has been flattened”, and unfortunately, this area has seen this devastation before.

“We are one of the only service centers that has a canteen because something like this happened back in 2008 in our area,” said Ridgeway. “We have seen this before, but it doesn’t make it any easier. We just know what to do and how to help.”

Local emergency management officials are still doing assessments of the damage in Jackson County. Ridgeway says they will know better once those assessments are finished how many meals to prepare for lunch and dinner for the next several days.

“People are already calling to provide meals and help serve,” said Ridgeway. “County commissioners and law enforcement have helped, but it’s been our board members so far who have manned the canteen and are doing great. We would not have been able to help these folks without our board members stepping up.”

In Dekalb County, Alabama, The Salvation Army Service Center in that county has feed nearly 150 first responders and residents in Ider, Alabama which saw a tornado destroy buildings and homes in that community.

Financial donations are the best way to meet the evolving needs and to support relief efforts.  The Salvation Army asks those who want to help the individuals and families affected by disaster to visit www.disaster.SalvationArmyUSA.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and designate “disaster efforts.”  Monetary donations will ensure The Salvation Army can meet the most immediate needs of those impacted most.

Canteen workers pull double duty for Baton Rouge flood and Hurricane Matthew, proud to serve

You never know where disaster will strike next. Over the last several months, the southern United States has seen more than its fair share of disaster. In August, historic rainfall in south Louisiana caused flooding like no one had ever seen. Two months later, Hurricane Matthew bared down on Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas with heavy rain and winds flooding homes and knocking down power lines.

In the aftermath of each storm, it was The Salvation Army and its officers, employees and volunteers who brought hope to those in need in the weeks following.

The Army’s response and ability to help would be drastically reduced without the men and women who spend countless hours serving meals, drinks and snacks from our canteens In the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division, we are blessed to have hundreds who give of their time and energy to go above the call of duty as canteen workers.

Four canteen workers stand out these last few months Gary Williams, Birmingham Command, Jerry Casey and Leo Saurez, Mississippi Gulf Coast Command, and Joe McDaniel, Tuscaloosa Corps because they served during the Louisiana floods and after Hurricane Matthew blew through.

Gary Williams grew up in Levittown, PA. He retired from U.S. Steel and is now a driver for The Salvation Army in Birmingham and is responsible for transporting clients, picking up donations and food, and manages the fleet of vehicles in Birmingham, including the canteen.

Gary completed two deployments this year, one in Baton Rouge and the other for Hurricane Matthew. He was initially deployed to Jacksonville, Florida and was relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina after the storm hit.

“I enjoy being a canteen worker because I enjoy helping people out when they really need it,” said Williams. “

Gary says we was glad to have his son, Keith along as a volunteer during the Hurricane Matthew response, but their trip to Florida and then North Carolina was anything but easy.

“On our way traveling from Florida to North Carolina, we had a very difficult time because so many roads were flooded and power lines were down. It was long trip to North Carolina,” said Williams.

Mississippi Gulf Coast’s dream team of canteen workers, Jerry Casey and Leo Saurez say their willingness to work on a canteen comes from just loving to serve others.

Jerry, a Long Island native, laughs at the thought of another disaster so close to these two.

“We are young, healthy and have a desire to help people so it wasn’t a problem. We hope there isn’t another disaster in the next week,” said Casey. “If there is, we will certainly be willing to help!”

Born in the Phillipines, Leo counts among his favorite memories of both the Louisiana flood and Hurricane Matthew being able to help the children they encountered.
“When kids come to the food trucks and I see their smiles,” said Saurez.

 

And, it’s reactions like that that make these canteen workers feel blessed to work for The Salvation Army.

“They say, ‘GOD bless you, we can’t believe you came to serve us.’ As if they felt they weren’t deserving to be served,” said Casey.

“When we see people after a disaster they are so grateful that we are there to help. While serving in Baton Rouge, I met a woman that broke down and started crying and said she wouldn’t know what to do without The Salvation Army. I was able to be there at that moment, give her hug and let her know that there is help out there,” said Williams.

Thank You Gary, Jerry, Leo and Joe for all you do for those in need during times of disaster.

Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services Director Receives International Designation

terry-lightheart-business-pic-color-october-2016Terry Lightheart, who serves as the Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi Division has been approved by the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Certification Commission to receive the Certified Emergency Manager® (CEM®) credential.

The CEM® designation is the highest honor of professional achievement available from IAEM, which has in its membership more than 9,000 emergency managers representing professionals whose goals are saving lives and protecting property and the environment during emergencies and disasters.  Ms. Lightheart qualified as a CEM® by submitting an extensive credentials package giving personal and professional background achievements and successfully completing a Management Essay and a written examination.

When asked about receiving the designation, Ms. Lightheart, stated, “As an emergency management professional I am thrilled there are organizations such as IAEM which fosters excellence for its members and the profession as a whole.”

In order to maintain certification, Lightheart must continue a program of professional development over successive five-year periods in the future.  Thus, this is an honor neither easily earned nor maintained.

Terry will receive recognition for this accomplishment on Wednesday evening, October 19, 2016 at an Awards Program held during the IAEM 64th Annual Conference & Exhibit in Savannah, GA.

The new class of CEM®‘s join the 2,550 other emergency managers who were approved for the designation since January, 1993 bringing the total number of Certified Emergency Managers to 2,564.   To see a complete list of current CEM®s please visit the IAEM website – http://www.iaem.com/page.cfm?p=certification/current-cem-aem

The Salvation Army ALM personnel, equipment heading to Florida for expected relief following Hurricane Matthew

hurricane-matthew-2

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 Breaks Ground on $25 Million Center of Hope Campus

Over 200 people turned out to help The Salvation Army of Birmingham celebrate the construction launch of the new   Salvation Army Center of Hope, a 119,000 square foot facility, which will include additional emergency and transitional housing, and a new education and workforce development center for clients and the Birmingham community.

The Center of Hope will be funded by the Building Hope Capital Campaign initiative, which is a $15 million capital campaign. The 4.1 acre campus will be comprised of a building complex that will place major Salvation Army programs and services together for a one-stop location to provide comprehensive family, community and social services. The new facility will allow The Salvation Army room for future expansion and growth.  The program and services housed at the New Center of Hope will offer solutions to some of the biggest societal issues and challenges faced today by families, youth, our neighborhoods and our city – problems such as poverty, homelessness, addiction and education.

“This is an important day in the history of The Salvation Army of Birmingham. We’ve been providing services in the city since 1899 and have been in the same building for nearly 50 years,” said Major Bob Parker, Area Commander. “The new Center of Hope will provide an opportunity to serve those in need in new ways and we are excited about the impact it will make in people’s lives for years to come.”

Volunteers Arrive As Salvation Army Starts Supplies Hand Out

dillard university student volunteers louisiana flood

Baton Rouge resident, Vanessa Yates, stands outside a vacant part of the Cortana Mall now turned into The Salvation Army’s distribution center waiting for her name to be called.  Yates says her home was under eight feet of water just a couple days ago and now she’s trying to clean up. After a few more minutes, a volunteer brings her a case of water, cleaning supplies, and a food box.

“It’s good to find people who care,” said Yates. “It means a lot, I was in tears cleaning out my home yesterday.”

The process is the same for hundreds of other residents who’ve shown up for help. Numbers tabulated by the state emergency operation center estimate as many as 600,000 people impacted by the historic rainfall and flood.

“This disaster is incredibly widespread,” said Major Ed Binnix, Incident Commander. “But we will be here to feed these folks and get them the supplies they need to make it through this.”

Plus, friends and neighbors are stepping up to stand with The Salvation Army in a big way. Neighbors like 100 students from Dillard University who showed up at the distribution center to help organize supplies for each resident who came by.

“Some of these students are from Baton Rouge,” said Jeremy Carter, Dillard’s Director of Student Leadership.  “We know education combined with community service can make a difference.”

They weren’t shy either, as they dove into piles of donated goods and started creating cleaning kits and food boxes to be handed out.

“Not everyone is as fortunate as we are. It’s very important to make a difference,” said Anwar Robinson, Dillard Resident Life Coordinator.

The Salvation Army depends on the passion and compassion of others, like students who volunteer or residents who show up to donate supplies to truly make a difference in times of unspeakable disaster.


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.

Father/Son Team Delivers Food and Hope in Baton Rouge Flood

la floods, ketcham, volunteers

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.