The Salvation Army's response to Hurricane Harvey
26 August 2017
The Salvation Army in the USA is responding to Hurricane Harvey, providing emotional, physical and spiritual support.
Please keep all those affected, as well as those serving on the ground in your thoughts and prayers.
September 4 update
Ninety-two Salvation Army mobile canteens and an emergency field kitchen are meeting human needs in south-east Texas in the wake of severe flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Floodwater is still affecting many regions, with an estimated 43,000 people still displaced from their homes.
As of 4 September, The Salvation Army has served:
- 200,657 meals
- 172,200 drinks
- 132,709 snacks
- 4018 food boxes
Thousands of items of clothing, blankets, drinking water and infant supplies have also been distributed as necessary, along with clean-up and comfort kits. Recognising the trauma experienced by survivors, emotional and spiritual care has been provided to nearly 8000 people.
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 rural Kendleton, stranded by the rising floodwaters, had to have boxed meals and other emergency supplies delivered by boat. The town’s 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 town of La Grange. Located an hour south-west 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 town for at least a week.
Salvation Army officers, working alongside partner organisations 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 1200 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],” Major Riggs said. “I’ve cried a little, encouraged, empathised with them, even though you couldn’t possibly know what they are going through.”
August 28 update
As continued rainfall following Hurricane Harvey presents extreme danger to the Gulf Coast of the USA, The Salvation Army in Texas is providing food and hydration to first responders and is preparing for massive feeding efforts for residents. In response to increased needs, The Salvation Army is activating emergency response teams across the country.
“As the situation in south Texas continues to worsen following Hurricane Harvey's landfall, The Salvation Army has activated all of its US and Canadian emergency disaster response assets. These units are able to provide food, shelter and emotional and spiritual care to those impacted by this ongoing devastating weather event,” said Major C. Mark Brown, Director of Business Operations for The Salvation Army’s Texas Division.
Salvation Army locations in Houston and the surrounding areas are providing shelter, food, and clothing in response to dramatic flooding in the city. On Sunday afternoon in both Pasadena (Texas) and Texas City a number of people were transported to The Salvation Army in the back of dump trucks having been rescued from rapidly rising flood waters.
Mobile kitchens from McAllen, Laredo, Corpus Christi and Dallas Fort Worth served meals, drinks and snacks to residents and first responders in the hard-hit city of Port Aransas, Driscoll and Corpus respectively. More than 3000 meals, snacks and drinks have been served. Ten additional mobile kitchens and an Incident Command Team from Arkansas and Oklahoma arrived in Corpus Christi on Sunday evening ready to begin service on Monday. An Incident Command Team from Florida is travelling to support the relief efforts in Houston by the middle of this week.
As communities along the coastline become accessible, Salvation Army mobile emergency feeding and hydration vehicles are delivering service to the affected areas. Service will continue for as long as is necessary.
Major Andrew Kelly, Salvation Army Area Commander for the Austin Area, Texas, tweeted: “This disaster will take months and possibly years to get through and The Salvation Army will be there, helping in any way we can, providing meals, shelter, clean-up support, and emotional and spiritual care; it will take financial assistance for us because it will be very costly.”
Former US President, George W. Bush, in a Facebook post, wrote that he and his wife Laura “are moved by the heroic work of the first responders and volunteers who are putting themselves at risk to save others … The devastation breaks our hearts, but we are confident that these strong communities will recover and thrive.” He encouraged the population to donate to The Salvation Army and other organisations offering assistance.
August 26 update
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.
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 1500 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.
To make a financial donation to support the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts please go to http://sar.my/amappeal.
Up-to-date information about the Hurricane Harvey response in Texas and neighbouring states can be found at disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.
Reports from the USA Southern Territory