In the wake of disaster

“We have truly turned a corner to persevere and deliver hope and help to our neighbors in need,” said Michael Orfitelli, territorial coordinator of Emergency Disaster Services (EDS). “We are grateful for the continued generosity of our donors and partners. These gifts provide food, supplies, and emotional and spiritual care to those affected by the devastating weather events.”

Orfitelli alluded to the onslaught of hurricanes that have ravished the United States this year. So far: Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida, and particularly Maria, which has caused extensive damage to the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. There are shortages in electrical power, clean water, food, and usable roads.

However, despite these scarcities, The Salvation Army continues to mobilize its personnel and equipment to these troubled areas. In the aftermath of disaster and behind the scenes, trained teams have reacted to these horrific events with a daily commitment to help first responders and survivors. The Army is making spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery happen.

Puerto Rico

Since Hurricane Maria made landfall, the Army has served over 1.2 million people. This is more than a third of the population on the island nation. The Army continues to fight to meet the needs of San Juan, Loiza, Fajardo, Humacao, Guayama, Ponce, Arecibo, Mayagüez, Peñuelas, and Caguas. Since the impact of Hurricane Irma, nearly 273,400 meals and snacks have been distributed to people in need.

Virgin Islands

In St. Thomas, the Army has partnered with the Dutch Reformed Church to serve almost 72,000 meals and snacks, and deliver food, water, and supply boxes to the poorest communities on the island. These resources are delivered to nursing homes, one skilled care facility, and shelters of the American Red Cross and Catholic Charities. The Army is serving nearly 6,000 families daily.

On September 30th, The Salvation Army received four massive containers with 1,800 boxes of meals for distribution. These supplies have made it possible to serve 21,612 meals to 7,200 local survivors.

In partnership with My Brother’s Workshop, the Army has served nearly 18,000 lunches since Hurricane Irma.

The Salvation Army has distributed over 8,700 articles of clothing to individuals and families affected by Hurricane Maria.

In St. John, the Army is partnering with a local café to serve 1,200 families each day.

In St. Croix, the Army is serving nearly 1,000 families each day.

The Salvation Army is uniquely positioned to serve people affected by the storms, however long it takes, because the Army is there before, during, and after the cameras are gone. Beyond serving immediate physical needs, the Army meets the emotional and spiritual needs of people that are unique to catastrophic events.

Care is a keyword in such work. EDS personnel are keenly aware that tangible infrastructures are easier to rebuild than are feelings such as confidence, faith, hope, and trust. Those intangibles take decidedly more time to restore.

Wrote Sarah Weiss, territorial corporate and community relations manager, to Salvation Army personnel working behind the scenes, “Disasters, even in their darkest moments, never extinguish human kindness. Through our efforts, whether you’re in an office or on the ground, we are making a difference to ensure that kindness (and determination) produces food, shelter, and other basic essentials to support families and individuals whose need is most.”

by Warren L. Maye

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