Disaster Group Honors Officers for Service in 2016 Disasters

By: David Ibata

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services team in Shreveport, Louisiana, witnessed God at work more times than can be counted when floods ravaged their region three times in 14 months.

“His hand and provision are just incredible,” said Major Ed Binnix, who with his wife, Major Carla Binnix, were corps officers in Shreveport (they are now in Port Charlotte, Florida).

The Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association honored Majors Binnix and Rebecca Nichols, their logistics and administrative coordinator, with its 2017 Dedication Award for their work in the March 2016 flood around Shreveport, and the August 2016 flood in Baton Rouge. The team previously had dealt with the June 2015 Red River flood in Shreveport that damaged dozens of homes.

In March 2016, more than 20 inches of rain fell on northern Louisiana, triggering floods that damaged or destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses and caused more than $1.3 billion in damage.

Among an outpouring of donations and volunteers was a restaurant lady who assisted the exhausted staff so they had two days of meals covered in about an hour, and the Knights of Columbus, who showed up with an outdoor cooking trailer; they were put to work serving 125 first responders. “Bossier City Fire Chief Brad Zagone told me it was the best jambalaya he’d ever had,” Nichols said.

Major Carla recalled a resident who showed up in his boat, wanting to help. “He was in tears; people were locked in without everyday supplies, without food or power. We would fix him up with food, drinks, toiletries, diapers, anything they needed, and he would take it out to his boat and deliver it.”

The Army served 7,000 meals and snacks to Shreveport first responders and flood victims, and distributed 1,000 cleanup kits, 200 toiletry kits and 400 cases of water.

But the worst was yet to come.

The “1,000-year storm” of August deluged southern Louisiana and parts of Mississippi, overwhelming Baton Rouge and Lafayette and Tangipahoa Parrish, Louisiana. Thirteen people were killed and tens of thousands were evacuated. It was a calamity said to be worse than Hurricane Katrina. Captain Brett Meredith, Baton Rouge corps officer, requested help.

Major Ed called Nichols and asked her to head down to handle logistics. He also called Operation BBQ Relief, a disaster services food provider, to serve hot food to residents, and Tyson sent tractor trailer loads of meat as well as mobile kitchens.

The Baton Rouge Corps was among the storm victims. The building flooded and almost everything was lost. The Army set up relief operations in a former Mervyn’s department store. It was a good location, but sweltering inside – the air conditioner hadn’t worked in years. The manager of a local Dillard’s store donated the services of his store’s maintenance crew to repair the air conditioner – and Dillard’s donated clothing to be given to flood victims.

In Shreveport, meanwhile, Major Carla was gathering supplies, and the school system in Shreveport shipped needed goods. “They took care of those people because they knew what they had been through themselves,” she said.

Salvation Army relief units from Shreveport, New Orleans and Columbus, Mississippi, assisted. Within two weeks, the Army had provided food, beverages– and emotional and spiritual care – to thousands of people. Major Ed and his team were on site for 14 days.

“When we’re helping a hurting community in the name of Christ, he will provide what we need, every time,” Major Ed said. “He will always supply that which he’s called us to do.”