Cover Feature

Army Responds During Harvey’s Weeklong Swath

As the hurricane lingered over Texas, The Salvation Army activated additional response teams from across the country.

Even as Hurricane Harvey was approaching Rockport in south Texas as a Category-4 storm, Salvation Army Emergency Disaster units and volunteers were positioned to move into affected areas—knowing full well that the event would likely unfold during an entire week of torrential downpours and at least tropical storm winds.

“We had ‘boots on the ground’ from the very beginning,” says Texas Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Ronnie Raymer, “and the Army is committed to meeting needs—not just immediate needs, but long term needs (cleanup kits, clothing, furniture, etc.) long after Harvey is gone—perhaps even for several years!”

While Harvey approached the coast for its second landfall, the Texas Division’s fleet of 34 mobile kitchens was dispatched to staging areas in San Antonio, Victoria, Arlington, Houston and Austin. These were soon joined by 10 units from the neighboring Arkansas-Oklahoma Division, as well as an Incident Command team, disaster services professionals, two mobile bunk houses and two shower units; all deployed from the Florida Division.

“We are honored to reciprocate representing with the heart of Floridians during this unprecedented disaster,” comments Kevin Smith, Emergency Disaster Services director for the Florida Division, recalling the ministry of Salvation Army teams from Texas who came to the Sunshine State just last year to help in recovery following Hurricane Matthew.

“The Salvation Army is prepared for the largest mass-feeding in U.S. history in the wake of Harvey’s catastrophic flooding!” he adds.

Other mobile canteens were added as the disaster dragged on through the following weekdays.

"Since Hurricane Harvey has affected more people than Hurricane Katrina, The Salvation Army established staging areas in San Antonio, Victoria, Arlington, and Houston,” observes Lt. Colonel Ron Busroe, National Community Relations and Development secretary. “These Incident Management Teams coordinate the work of the 59 mobile kitchens (canteens, capable of serving up to 1,500 meals per day) currently deployed to the area, the two field kitchens (capable of serving up to 15,000 meals per day), and several other communications and support units.”

Hurricane Harvey stalled just west of Victoria, Texas, just as forecasters predicted. Its merciless bands of torrential rain began a weeklong inundation of Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, and later much of southwest Louisiana.

“As the situation worsened following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, The Salvation Army activated all of its U.S. and Canadian emergency disaster units. These units are able to provide food, shelter and emotional and spiritual care to those impacted by this ongoing devastating weather event,” says Major C. Mark Brown, director of Business Operations for the Salvation Army in the Texas Division.

Meanwhile, two feeding units from Austin arrived at hard-hit Victoria on Sunday. Other canteens remained in San Antonio in anticipation of meeting needs in the “Alamo City” where thousands of coastline evacuees sought shelter.

More than wind damage and the loss of electrical power to some 50 Texas counties, continued rainfall overflowed rivers and bayous—presenting the most extreme danger and the possibility of loss-of-life.

“The Salvation Army is providing food and hydration to first responders and is conducting massive feeding efforts for residents,” explains Philip Burn, Communications Director for the Texas Division.

As Harvey’s unwanted presence lingered throughout the following week, The Salvation Army activated additional response teams from across the country. While work continued among Gulf Coast communities from Victoria to Padre Island, some 50+ inches of rain to the east came just as predicted, and the Army was ready.

Salvation Army locations in paralyzed Houston and the surrounding areas are providing shelter, food, and clothing in response to dramatic flooding in the city of 5 million inhabitants. In both Pasadena and Texas City, stranded residents rescued from rapidly-rising flood waters were transported to Salvation Army locations on the back of dump trucks.

Captain Jay Ward rescuing a family from the flood.

Captain Jay Ward, corps officer at Houston Northwest Corps, spent several days in his boat, plucking people in his neighborhood from rising waters inundating their homes.

Hurricane Harvey UPDATE — Friday September 08, 2017 


The statistics below present a snapshot of ongoing Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service efforts in the affected communities.

  • 341,755 Meals
  • 355,280 Drinks
  • 292,480 Snacks
  • 5,229 Food Boxes
  • 95 Mobile Feeding Units (Canteens)
  • 4 Field Kitchens
  • Emotional & Spiritual Care to 23,224 individuals
  • 1,725 cleanup kits
  • 6,662 comfort kits
  • 47,638 hours of employee and volunteer service

Up-to-date statistics, stories and photos relating to The Salvation Army’s Storm Harvey response can be found at


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