Covid-19Magazine Exclusive

Prepared to weather the storm

Rick Reinhardsen, a longtime volunteer with The Salvation Army, has weathered a lot of storms in his 52 years on Martha’s Vineyard and as a former sea captain in the U.S. Merchant Marine.

The hurricanes, winter storms, and Nor’easters that Reinhardsen has responded to have all had predictable points of impact. However, he’s never encountered the elusiveness of COVID–19. It’s fierce, invisible, and totally unpredictable.

With seasonal residents returning earlier than usual to escape hard–hit areas, islanders are preparing for a possible surge in COVID–19 cases. To brace for the worst, regional emergency management leaders on the island, including Rick, meet weekly to assess the community’s needs.

“We do what needs to be done,” said Reinhardsen. “Because of my years of experience in helping people on the island and in other communities in need, it’s second nature for me to jump in and help.”

Reinhardsen is currently working virtually from his West Tisbury home as the head of logistics for The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division’s IMAT (Incident Management Assistance Team) for COVID–19.

“Rick brings the perfect expertise and dedication with his warehouse and logistics experience,” said Chris Farrand, The Salvation Army’s Regional Emergency Disaster Service director.

In addition to ensuring that the Salvation Army’s Service Extension Unit partners on Martha’s Vineyard have the essential supplies, Rick is in charge of ordering food and other necessary items for their statewide feeding and COVID–19 response. He was also asked to support the Island Emergency Managers in designing their supply logistics.

“Before we started The Salvation Army’s Service Extension Unit on Martha’s Vineyard 15 years ago, we didn’t have a presence out here,” Reinhardsen explained. “Today, I have more than a dozen volunteers who I can call on to help if we must respond to a fire or disaster. I can also call on them if we need help ringing the bell during the holidays or connecting a neighbor with social services.”

Under Reinhardsen’s direction, The Salvation Army is well–known across every town on the island. Rick is the face of the Army on Martha’s Vineyard. As the COVID–19 pandemic continues, Reinhardsen has seen an uptick in calls for rentals, food, and other assistance. He anticipates that the number of requests will continue to grow.

“The Salvation Army is there for the communities we serve—before, during, and after disaster strikes—and we will be there to help them long after this storm passes.”

by Heather MacFarlane

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