Partnership in Fort Lauderdale lends flexibility to Salvation Army disaster efforts

By: Brad Rowland

The Salvation Army is well known for its work in emergency disaster services and with good reason. In response to hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters, the Army provides service and support to thousands.

Work in areas affected by Hurricanes Florence and Michael is notable and of vast importance. But resources can be used for day-to-day influence, even in the absence of large-scale disasters. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a new partnership is forming with an eye on that kind of ongoing support.

The Salvation Army and the South Florida Rehab & Emergency Support Team (SFREST) are joining forces on an ongoing enterprise closely modeled after an existing marriage between the Dallas-Fort Worth Area Command and Box 4, an organization of the same type as SFREST. By its own description, SFREST “routinely responds to structure fires, hazmat incidents, brush fires, police operations, and search and rescues,” while the Army will provide resources, in the form of canteens and volunteers, to support that effort.

While normal protocols will be in place for the local deployment of canteens using registered Salvation Army volunteers, the two organizations will collaborate on a continuing basis to help those in the community; however, this particular effort can also serve as a breeding ground for future work.

“I just think that this is a great chance to be able to work closely with law enforcement and fire in volunteer opportunities, and this is a constant thing,” said William Bauguess, EDS coordinator. “There will always be fires and situations like this, where this is a great opportunity to gain disaster experience on a local level and, in addition, be able to work with local communities and municipalities. So, when large-scale relief efforts are needed, you already have a relationship that can be developed from previous experience.”

Because of the dynamics in the area, crews are often deployed to service situations involving fire and police activity, leaving significant need for resources and manpower. This fits snugly with the Army’s mission of service to others and, in conjunction, provides opportunities for individuals who would not necessarily be granted the opportunity for long-term disaster service.