In response to the August wildfires across central Newfoundland, The Salvation Army’s emergency disaster services (EDS) deployed to provide shelter, water, meals, snacks and other supplies to those affected. Teams were set up in Deer Lake and Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., with Park Street Citadel open as an operations centre.

The provincial government declared a state of emergency due to four active forest fires, causing road closures that displaced residents for long periods of time.

“People were coming to Grand Falls-Windsor, maybe for a dentist or doctor’s appointment, not expecting to be here for over a week,” Major Jamie Locke, divisional secretary for public relations, Newfoundland and Labrador Division, said in an interview with CBC News. “People are really feeling the strain, the emotional impact of being displaced and not able to go home, and the concern for family members who are still back at home.”

The Salvation Army and other community partners such as the Red Cross and Lion’s Club assist search and rescue teams

At Grand Falls Citadel, volunteers in the kitchen prepared hot breakfasts and snacks to distribute to stranded residents as they waited to cross the Bay d’Espoir highway.

Mike Barry, the volunteer team lead in Grand Falls-Windsor, said that The Salvation Army served approximately 160 meals per day in addition to meals for 50 to 60 first responders. 

In Deer Lake, Majors Jeff and Shannon Howard, corps officers, responded to a provincial call for a temporary shelter that would operate out of a local arena in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross. Residents from central Newfoundland who chose to relocate due to heavy smoke were able to access transportation, accommodation and meals at the shelter. Salvation Army team members served meals from volunteers in Corner Brook and Deer Lake to search and rescue teams, stranded residents, evacuated personnel and Red Cross volunteers. More than 900 meals were served to the community. 

Amid concern for their homes and properties, residents were grateful for the support and welcome received from both The Salvation Army and the Red Cross. “Through our EDS training, we were well equipped to respond to the heightened needs of displaced individuals and first responders. This opportunity also allowed us to demonstrate God’s message of hope and grace,” says Marilyn Forward, an EDS volunteer from Corner Brook Temple.

Photos: Major Jamie Locke

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