(Photo: Left-Right) Chris George, Salvation Army volunteer; Major Stephen Story, Salvation Army incident commander; Congressman Chuck Fleischmann; Senator Marsha Blackburn; Major Mark Smith, Salvation Army public information officer; Kimberly George, director of communicatons; and Bo Sells, divisional disaster director.
Salvation Army EDS units provide relief after storms ravage South
By: Dan Childs
Four divisions of the USA Southern Territory deployed disaster relief units as tornadoes and severe storms slammed the region April 12-13. At least 33 people were killed, and hundreds of homes and businesses were severely damaged in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
More than 60 tornadoes were reported, with most occurring in relatively sparsely populated areas. The Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky-Tennessee and North-South Carolina divisions were involved in the relief effort.
In Monroe, Louisiana, where some 200 homes were significantly damaged, Captain Jerry Casey, corps officer, served sandwiches, drinks and snacks from the mobile feeding unit to residents and first responders in affected neighborhoods. “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds new challenges to providing emergency disaster relief. We’re being careful to wear a mask and gloves, and we’re taking social distancing precautions while serving the public,” said Captain Casey.
Eleven deaths were reported in Mississippi with Carroll, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lawrence, Panola and Walthall counties sustaining tornado damage. The Laurel Corps dispatched one feeding unit to serve in Jones County, and two units from the Hattiesburg Corps served 1,000 meals Monday in Jefferson Davis County. The McComb Service Center provided 50 meals in Walthall County. Several other commands in the state were assessing damage in their communities. Some 74,000 power outages were reported statewide.
Alabama, meanwhile, had over 120,000 power outages. Much of the state’s damage was occurred in Etowah County, where the Gadsden Corps deployed a mobile feeding unit to serve first responders, highway crews and residents. Also, the Walker County Service Extension Center had a mobile feeding unit serving impacted areas in Blount and Walker counties.
In northwest Georgia, tornadoes caused eight fatalities and injured 33 people. Also, 87 homes were destroyed with 135 residences sustaining significant damage. In northwest Georgia, the Dalton Corps sent a rapid response canteen to serve snacks and drinks in Murray County. Particular attention is focused on a mobile home park in Chatsworth which was severely damaged. Also impacted were Upson and Chattooga counties. Disaster personnel from the Griffin Corps served in Upson County, and the Rome Corps assisted in Chattooga County. Those disaster teams are providing food services and delivering cleanup kits and other supplies while observing social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disaster personnel in the KT Division have been engaged since early March, when a tornado devastated Nashville just before the COVID-19 crisis began. Their attention turned to the Chattanooga area after an EF-3 tornado ravaged several counties in southeastern Tennessee. By April 15, The Salvation Army had served over 2,700 individuals in Hamilton and Bradley counties. Demands are increasing as neighborhoods become more accessible, and the Chattanooga Area Command anticipates that it will continue to serve hot meals, beverages and snacks and offer emotional and spiritual counseling to thousands more in the coming days. U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn and U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann were joined by Chattanooga Mayor Jim Coppinger as they stopped by to thank Salvation Army disaster workers for their relief efforts on the front lines
In the Carolinas Division, the Aiken, South Carolina, Corps sent disaster personnel into the nearby Windsor community to provide food and drinks to residents affected by the storm. Elsewhere in the state, the Greenville Area Command coordinated with civic officials in Oconee County, deploying the canteen in the Seneca community, where a twister damaged or destroyed multiple structures. In Orangeburg County, Salvation Army personnel provided hydration and cleanup support for two families.