Army recovery efforts ongoing after 2017 hurricanes
By: Dan Childs
Six months after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida, The Salvation Army continues to reach out with assistance in the recovery efforts.
The Salvation Army’s Texas Division is still at work in the communities hardest hit by Harvey. Laurie Fried, the division’s recovery program manager and four regional recovery managers are overseeing an effort utilizing 16 caseworkers, which has assisted about 16,000 clients. Partnerships are being established in communities that have historically been underserved in disasters. Distribution of items such as food, water, clothing and personal hygiene has continued throughout the affected area with eight Salvation Army distribution centers still operating. Those locations are supported by the division’s disaster warehouse in Arlington. In-kind donations are still being received, and some $4 million worth of goods have been distributed.
In addition, Texas plans to implement in the next few weeks a J.C. Penney voucher program that will allow clients to shop a non-profit recovery catalog for household items, furniture and appliances. Also, the division is working with the State of Texas General Land Office, FEMA, the OneStar Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in a utility assistance program for FEMA temporary housing. That effort, part of the Rebuild Texas Fund, will provide grants to be administered by the Army to assure utility services to survivors who qualify for temporary housing units.
As of March 5, The Salvation Army in Florida had distributed more than $4.4 million to people affected by Hurricane Irma. Case managers are assisting Floridians trying to access local, state and federal resources to help them recover and rebuild.
South Florida was most directly affected by Irma, and much of the Army’s work is centered on Naples, Fort Myers and Key West. However, other corps across the state are reaching out to help survivors with financial assistance and distribution of goods, including Citrus County, Clay County, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Lake County, Sumter County, Miami and St. Augustine.
In Naples and Fort Myers, The Salvation Army is operating disaster assistance centers, offering financial assistance and bulk items and partnering with agencies including Catholic Charities and UMCOR. The center in Naples offers Collier County residents assistance made available by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and the United Way of Collier County. The Fort Myers center, serving survivors in Lee, Hendry and Glades counties, is joined by satellite offices in Bonita Springs, LeHigh Acres, Clewiston and LaBelle in offering financial assistance and bulk items on a case-by-case basis.
The Key West Corps is providing survivors with financial assistance, Family Store vouchers, food and hygiene kits.
In Tampa, the Florida Divisional Logistics Warehouse has in-kind goods available for distribution at local corps sites and established disaster assistance centers. Available goods include water, electrolyte beverages, food (including meal kits, food boxes and snack kits), baby supplies, cleanup kits, tarps, toiletry items and paper products.
An increasingly key component in Salvation Army disaster work, emotional and spiritual care, yielded more than 16,400 contacts with people affected by Hurricane Irma.
Florida’s Emergency Disaster Services is also assisting evacuees from Puerto Rico in the wake of last fall’s Hurricane Maria. The Orlando and Miami area commands continue to support and staff multi-agency relief centers at the international airports serving both cities. Assistance provided at both centers includes hygiene items, baby supplies, food boxes, clothing vouchers for children and emotional and spiritual care.
The Army is also providing Hurricane Irma relief in Georgia, where the storm caused flooding along the coast and widespread damage as it moved inland. The Georgia Division is collaborating with members of the developing long-term recovery committees, including Lutheran Disaster Relief, UMCOR, United Way and others to support those affected by Hurricane Irma.