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Aug28MonEmergency disaster team serves hundreds across state. August 28, 2017 by Kristin Ostensen
Forty-two mobile kitchens and two field kitchens have been deployed by The Salvation Army in Texas following the landfall of Hurricane Harvey. The Category 4 storm is the most damaging weather system to hit the mainland United States in more than 13 years. Meteorologists estimate that up to a metre of rainfall can be expected in some areas as the weather front slows and meanders close to the Texas coast. Catastrophic flooding is expected, along with structural damage to buildings and infrastructure such as power lines and water supplies.
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The Salvation Army’s well-prepared disaster response is a close partnership with local and state emergency officials as well as non-profit partners such as Americares and Midwest Food Bank. Emergency supplies such as clean-up kits, bottled water and food have been staged at The Salvation Army’s disaster centre in Arlington, Texas, with some already distributed to strategic points nearer the coast. Each of The Salvation Army’s mobile kitchens can serve an average of 1,500 meals per day.
Additionally, Salvation Army staff have been deployed to work alongside colleagues in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Response Coordination Center in Washington DC and at the Texas State Operations Center in Austin. Disaster leadership teams have been positioned in San Antonio, Galveston/Texas City, Houston and Corpus Christi – close to Rockport, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall late on Friday night with winds of 130 miles per hour (210 kilometres per hour).
The Salvation Army in Corpus Christi is concentrating its early efforts to feed 200 first responders who are staged at the FEMA Safety Shelter dome. "We collected some extra food from our freezer and fired up the generator on the mobile kitchen," reported Captain Patrick Gesner. "We've already been serving coffee this morning and the police and first responders have expressed how pleased they are we are here. Our focus today will be cooking and serving meals at the FEMA dome while the city assessment is taking place."
An appeal has been launched to support The Salvation Army’s provision of physical, emotional and spiritual care to survivors and relief workers. Even after the immediate disaster response efforts are over, The Salvation Army will remain in communities impacted by the storm, supporting long-term recovery efforts and providing ongoing assistance to those in need. In the United States, please visit http://helpsalvationarmy.org/ to donate or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Donors in other countries can give securely at http://sar.my/amappeal.
Up-to-date information about the Hurricane Harvey response in Texas and neighbouring states can be found online at disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.
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UPDATE: September 4, 2017
More than 200,000 meals served as Salvation Army response to Storm Harvey enters second week
Ninety-two mobile canteens and an emergency field kitchen are currently meeting human needs in southeast Texas. Flooding caused by Storm Harvey is still affecting many neighbourhoods and has displaced an estimated 43,000 people from their homes. The Salvation Army’s relief efforts continue throughout Labour Day.
As of 9 a.m. on September 4, The Salvation Army has served:
- 200,657 meals
- 172,200 drinks
- 132,709 snacks
- 4,018 food boxes
Thousands of items of clothing, blankets, cases of drinking water and infant supplies have also been distributed as necessary, along with clean-up and comfort kits. Recognizing the trauma experienced by survivors, emotional and spiritual care has been provided to nearly 8,000 individuals.
In Houston, one of the worst-affected cities, nine additional mobile feeding units have been mustered to support the 33 already serving flood-hit residents. Salvation Army staff and volunteers are using iPads and tablets at mobile feeding sites to help residents to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Services are changing dynamically, reflecting the needs of each community.
Residents of nearby Kendleton, stranded by the rising floodwaters, had to have boxed meals and other emergency supplies delivered by boat. Mayor Darryl K. Humphrey Sr expressed gratitude for The Salvation Army’s commitment: "It’s been a tremendous, tremendous help coming down and supplying all the dinners, lunches and hot meals … here in the rural areas."
The Austin Area Command feeding units have been reassigned from the Texas coast to serve in the city of La Grange. Located an hour southwest of Austin, the Colorado River has reached record levels and has flooded about 500 homes in the community. Relief efforts are anticipated to continue in the city for at least a week.
Salvation Army officers, working alongside partner organizations in Lake Charles, Louisiana, are helping care for hundreds of people who have crossed state lines in search of a safe place to stay. Corps officer Lieutenant Richard Watts, with the help of 80 volunteers, has managed meals three times a day for up to 1,200 people at the Lake Charles Civic Center. ‘We have rallied as a community, and you can’t ask for more than that,’ he says.
Major Glenn Riggs has been coordinating emotional and spiritual care for this shelter. "It’s been about comforting [people]," explains the major. "I’ve cried a little, encouraged, empathized with them, even though you couldn’t possibly know what they are going through."