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March 22, 2017

Through Fires, Floods and Storms


Periodic training, care and upgrading of equipment and supplies helps emergency services units respond to disasters as they occur. This year alone response efforts have reached victims of more than 20 incidents around the country. Here are a few of the relief efforts mounted within the last month.

The Emergency Disaster Services team based in Buffalo, NY responded to a three alarm residential fire at an apartment complex last Saturday. The team provided canteen and hydration services to about 60 firefighters involved in fighting the large fire. The Salvation Army along with members of the American Red Cross Greater Buffalo Chapter Disaster team opened a shelter at St. John’s Grace Episcopal Church and provided shelter, emotional and spiritual care and feeding to the 90 displaced residents. 

“We are grateful to the Buffalo Area Services Command for supervising and staffing this important operation and to the American Red Cross of Greater Buffalo for their steadfast partnership with us in serving the Buffalo Community,” said Michael R. Schwartz, disaster director for the the Army’s Empire State Division.

Staff and volunteers serve food beverages to people displaced by flooding in of San Jose, CA .

Staff, officers, and volunteers from the Silicon Valley Command provided much needed care, comfort, warm clothing, and nourishing meals to hundreds of victims of the historic San Jose, CA floods. The floods caused an estimated $73 million in damage and damaged at least 1,300 homes and numerous businesses.

The Army, in partnership with the City of San Jose and the American Red Cross, responded to the needs of nearly 300 evacuees staying at two emergency shelters.  Staff and volunteers provided dinners, lunches, snacks and hydration.  In the days following the flooding the last week of February, the Army has provided 1,217 meals, 1,800 clothing items, 260 shoes, 250 socks, and 50 blankets.

The Salvation Army continues its support of the Oklahoma Forestry Service and multiple firefighting task forces from numerous counties as wildfires escalated in northwestern Oklahoma in March. Over 820,000 acres have burned over four counties. Emergency workers based at the staging center have worked tirelessly, serving on site as well as sending meals to the frontline firefighters. On Wednesday two Army officers, three employees and one volunteer helped provide over 1,000 meals, 2,500 drinks and 1,500 snacks. Many of the firefighters and members of task forces came in for meetings and to take a break from the smoke and heat. Emotional and spiritual care proved as important as the provision of food and hydration. As responders continued  to fight wildfires and to come by the canteen for a meal, a snack or a drink, Army officers were available to provide a ministry of presence. The Army continues to work closely with Emergency Management and the Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to ensure a response.

In cooperation with Niagara and Erie County Emergency Management, the Army opened a shelter at its Lockport, NY Center for those affected by wind-related damage and power outages earlier this month. Emergency workers also assisted at 10 warming centers across Erie County as temperatures dropped and people waited for power to be restored. Resources from across the state were deployed to assist with operations in the greater Buffalo area, including hydration for first responders and utility crews across Genesee County.

At the request of the Otsego County Office of Emergency Services, The Emergency Disaster Services Team based in Sidney, NY provided hot beverages, water and snacks to all first responders fighting a major fire in bitterly cold conditions in the town of Milford, NY. About 75 firefighters were involved in fighting the large fire at the Milford United Methodist Church. 

Serving meals in the town of Chico and at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, CA following flooding caused by erosion of the Oroville Dam.

Following the flooding caused by the erosion in the Oroville, Dam in northern California last month, Salvationists served meals in the town of Chico and at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, CA for residents who were evacuated. Crews from the towns of Auburn, Grass Valley and Hayward assisted at the fairgrounds.

Staff and volunteers from the San Antonio, TX Area Command spent several days during in late February serving snacks, meals and drinks, and providing clean-up kits to residents following four tornado touchdowns that caused significant damage to a number of communities in the state. One of the major challenges to service was the extensive amount of debris on the streets caused by fallen trees and damage to homes and businesses. Emergency workers delivered clean-up kits and refreshments from door to door by means of a pick up truck, and meals were served at fixed sites from two mobile kitchens.

Staff and volunteers from the San Antonio, TX Area Command deliver snacks, meals and drinks, and clean-up kits to residents following four tornado touchdowns. 

“It has been a privilege to help those who are working so hard to clean up their homes and streets,” said Brad Mayhar, public relations/manager for the San Antonio Command. “The community has really pulled together and The Salvation Army is here to help in whatever way we can.”

Salvation Army personnel in each and every area in need of emergency services remain in support mode and continue to assess needs for long term relief and rebuilding.

Visit for a comprehensive look at disaster services.


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