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The Salvation Army Serving in Jacksonville, Alabama Following Severe Weather

jacksonville alabama tornado
March 20, 2018
Jon Kalahar | jon.kalahar@uss.salvationarmy.org


Jacksonville, AL – A line of severe storms moved across northern Mississippi and Alabama dropping large hail and spinning up several tornadoes Monday evening. The most extensive damage is in Calhoun County, Alabama where Jacksonville State University received a direct hit.

The Anniston Corps of The Salvation Army has been called to feed lunch and dinner Tuesday for 300 first responders at the Jacksonville Public Safety Complex. The Corps will also provide service delivery to volunteers responding to the area, as requested. The Anniston Corps mobile feeding unit will be supported by 3 additional mobile feeding units from Birmingham and Gadsden. Other resources throughout Alabama are on standby to provide support as needed.

“There are several buildings with roofs ripped right off,” said Major Eric Roberts, Anniston Corps Officer. “It breaks your heart knowing what these folks are going through, but we are here to offer a little bit of hope and a hot meal.”

Major Roberts and Salvation Army staff are also trained to offer emotional and spiritual care to residents who may have lost their homes and simply need to pray with or talk to someone.

“We want them to know they are not alone in this. They can always come to us for help.” said Major Roberts.

Other Salvation Army local units in northeast Alabama are continuing to assess service delivery needs.

“We are communicating with local and state emergency management officials to determine if there are additional needs in the state.” said Terry Lightheart, Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. “We will provide service wherever it is needed.”


About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: 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. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go towww.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

Birmingham Salvation Army Serving After Tornado from Remnants of Cindy

storm preparedBirmingham, AL – The Birmingham, Alabama Command of The Salvation Army will serve meals Thursday evening after a tornado tore through several communities in and around Birmingham. This comes as Emergency Disaster Services officials warned residents of the threat of flooding and tornadoes after Cindy was downgraded early Thursday to a tropical depression.

“Emergency officials asked us to serve meals and drinks in Fairfield and at the local EMA center following this storm,” said Major Roger Glick, Commanding Officer, Birmingham Area Command. “We will also provide emotional and spiritual care to those who need someone to talk to, a prayer, or even just a hug.”

The Birmingham Area Command will provide meals and drinks to the Jefferson County Emergency Operations Center and to a mobile command center closer to where the tornado touched down in the city of Fairfield. Disaster workers will be on site until 10pm Thursday night.

“Cindy is still a threat as it moves northeast across the top of our area,” said Terry Lightheart, EDS Director, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. “We know with projected rainfall from this storm more flooding could still be a possibility into the weekend. Many areas of the Division are also under a tornado watch or warning.”

With Salvation Army Corps located all across the Gulf Coast from Mobile to Biloxi to New Orleans and Lake Charles in Louisiana, officers will stay in close contact with local emergency management officials to make sure all needs are met. Shelters are also open to receive anyone who needs to escape rising flood waters.

“So far the impact of Cindy has been localized but Divisional disaster relief personnel and assets remain on standby until remnants of the storm have passed.”said Lightheart. “We would rather be prepared and not be needed than be caught off guard.”

The Salvation Army serving in 3 locations following tornado outbreak across the South

new orleans tornado canteen

Disaster units in New Orleans, Livingston Parish, LA and Slocumb, AL

Jackson, MS (February 8, 2017) – Severe weather moving across the southern United States dropped multiple tornadoes Tuesday. The Salvation Army has responded with canteens or mobile feeding units to help serve those in need as well as first responders on scene to help.

In Louisiana, six parishes received damage from multiple tornadoes. Roofs where ripped off buildings, structures destroyed, trees toppled over roadways but thankfully no deaths.

The New Orleans area saw the most destructive of the storms. The Salvation Army’s New Orleans Command responded to Chef Menteur Highway and Wilson Road where disaster workers began food service.

“We served 112 meals and 266 drinks from our location, and we plan to help as long as people are in need and are recovery from these storms,” said Major David Worthy, Commanding Officer, The Salvation Army, New Orleans Command.

The Baton Rouge Salvation Army dispatched a canteen to Watson, Louisiana in Livingston Parish where workers served almost one hundred meals and drinks.

“This is difficult work for the first responders and a difficult time for those whose homes have been affected. We are grateful to be able to serve them,” said Captain Brett Meredith, Corps Officer, Baton Rouge Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army also has officers and trained employees on location to provide emotional and spiritual care to any residents and rescue workers who might need someone to talk to or allow us to pray with them.

“Our hearts go out to those who have been touched by Tuesday’s events, and we pray the work of The Salvation Army may ease the burden these folks are feeling during these times,” said Captain Meredith.

A tornado also touched down in Houston County, Alabama near Slocumb, Alabama Tuesday evening.  Alabama emergency officials report power outages, trees down over the roads, and several buildings damaged. The Salvation Army canteen from the Dothan Corps is serving in that location.

How People Can Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation.

  • Donate By Mail: The Salvation Army PO BOX 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301. Please designate ‘February Gulf Coast Tornadoes’ on all checks
  • Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)

The Salvation Army meeting need after tornado outbreak in New Orleans

New Orleans, LA (February 7, 2017) – The Salvation Army is already serving in one of the hardest hit areas near New Orleans as storms dropped several tornados around noon Tuesday. A canteen (mobile feeding unit) was dispatched to Chef Menteur Highway and Wilson Road in New Orleans to serve food, drinks and snacks to residents affected by the severe weather, but also to many first responders on the ground.
“We want to be there to help and serve those who are aiding residents who potentially lost everything in this storm,” said Major David Worthy, Commanding Officer, The Salvation Army New Orleans Area Command.

Disaster workers are also assessing damage in other areas of South Louisiana to see if further mobile feeding units will be needed. Currently, six parishes in the state received damage.

“We will also continue to monitor these storms as they move east through Mississippi and Alabama,” said Terry Lightheart, Emergency/Disaster Services Director, The Salvation Army of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. “The potential is there for more severe weather.”

How People Can Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation.
· Donate Online: http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/february_gulf_coast_tornados
· Donate By Mail: The Salvation Army PO BOX 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301. Please designate ‘February Gulf Coast Tornadoes’ on all checks
· Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)

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.

Feeding increases as clean up continues in Hattiesburg area

The Salvation Army now has four mobile feeding units covering the areas affected by the early morning tornado that left a path of destruction in and around Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Along the path of Saturday’s storms, roads are still blocked as power crews work to restore electricity to homes.

Salvation Army canteens set up so residents wouldn’t have to walk or drive too far for a hot meal or something to drink.

“I heard glass breaking and something hitting the house,” said Hattiesburg resident, George Dixon.

Dixon walked over for something to eat. He also was prayed for before he left.

“Seeing this truck makes you feel like someone cares about you,” said Dixon.

Veronica Williams drove up to The Salvation Army canteen knowing she could get a hot meal for her family.

“You always show up when people are in need,” said Williams. “You see that red and white, you are about to get help.”

Help comes in many forms. Michelle Overby and Jordyn Lester lived through Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Now living in Hattiesburg, they saw people in need and wanted to help.

“We drove down this street and saw how the people looked, that was how we looked after Katrina, so we had to help,” said Overby.

Michelle and Jordyn made sandwiches, chips bags, snacks and bought water to hand out, but with the road blocked they couldn’t deliver the food to a local church. That’s when they saw The Salvation Army canteen.

“The Salvation Army helped us and we wanted to do that here,” said Lester.

Michelle and Jordyn asked if they could pass out their food next to the canteen, and our disaster workers even let them use one of our tables.

The Salvation Army prepared and delivered meals, served drinks and snacks, and prayed with folks from the community.

With two mobile feeding units on standby ready to help if needed, disaster personnel with assess the need in the area and work with local and state emergency management agencies to provide for those in need.

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.

Corps Buildings Damaged in Hattiesburg as Division Prepares for More Storms


January 21, 2017
Jon Kalahar | jon.kalahar@uss.salvationarmy.org | (601) 941-7779

Hattiesburg, MS — A tornado cut a destructive path across part of Forrest County, Mississippi early Saturday morning. Nothing in its path was spared, including The Salvation Army, Hattiesburg Corps. Fifteen clients were staying in the emergency shelter when the storm struck.

“You look around this campus at what buildings received the most damage. It’s a mess, but the shelter was mostly spared,” said Captain Patrick Connelly, Hattiesburg Corps Officer.

The Hattiesburg Salvation Army’s campus includes the church, administrative offices, and the Boys and Girls Club including a gym. All had roof damage and water throughout.

“These are just buildings. These are just things. They are not all the Army is. We will continue to do what we do and that is help this community recover,” said Captain Connelly.

The Jackson, Mississippi Corps arrived just in time Saturday with two mobile feeding units to help prepare meals for the local shelter housing 50 residents from the area and ten staff members.

Emergency Disaster Services Director for the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division, Terry Lightheart has stationed three more mobile feeding units on standby. More severe weather is expected tonight.

“Once again the entire Division is on alert as we watch severe weather move across the Southeast, so we want to protect our workers and keep them out of harm’s way. We will know better Sunday exactly how many vehicles and personnel we need to move into action,” said Lightheart.

To help us provide for those in need from Saturday’s storms you can donate through this link: give.salvationarmyusa.org/January_tornado_outbreak 

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.