The Salvation Army continues disaster service, aims to meet mounting need after Hurricane Ian
By: Michelle Hartfield and Maria Matheus
A Labor of Love
FORT MYERS, FLORIDA — Chrissy Arambasich is a labor and delivery nurse at a hospital in Fort Myers, Florida. She was on duty the night Hurricane Ian tore through the area. Not even record-breaking hurricanes can stop babies from being born.
Through tears, Chrissy spoke about struggling to care for others when you do not know if your own family is safe.
“I work with amazing people,” Chrissy. “We took care of our patients, and then we took care of each other whenever we had a chance.”
The hospital parking lots flooded, and every person on shift that night lost their car. Chrissy’s family made it through the storm safely, but their house is no longer habitable. They are staying with her in-laws who live close enough to the hospital that she can walk to work with no car.
Chrissy and her family stopped for lunch and dinner from The Salvation Army canteen stationed on their street.
“I’m just so thankful my friends and family are safe,” Chrissy cried. Her husband put his arm around her and added, “We haven’t had a hot meal in a week. This is so amazing.”
Before heading home with their meals, Chrissy and her family prayed with an Emotional Spiritual Care specialist from The Salvation Army.
“We have always given to The Salvation Army, and we never thought we would be the ones needing help,” she said. “I don’t know how long my kids will be out of school, but we will definitely be trying to volunteer. We want to support the people who have supported us.”
The Salvation Army will continue their efforts to reach neighborhood where people have not had access to food or supplies. With an incident command fully established, The Salvation Army intends to ramp up meal service in the coming days.
Shelter from the Storm
NAPLES, FLORIDA — Due to the waist-deep waters, Captains Ben and Annie Bridges, corps officers for The Salvation Army in Naples, Florida, were not able to captain the ship, so Ada and her husband, Roger Morales, who attend the church and volunteer at the corps, stood guard and kept order. The following narrative was translated from Spanish.
As Hurricane Irma caused a bit of damage to their neighborhood in the past, Captains Bridges granted them permission to stay at the corps building in Naples. As soon as they arrived at the corps, the storm intensified, and people began arriving one by one seeking shelter from the storm.
Water soon flooded the area surrounding the Corps on Estey Avenue, as well as the main street of Airport Pulling Road, and they began hearing knocks at the entrance door. They arrived in dinghy’s, in kayaks, on foot, soaking wet, and carrying nothing on their backs save for their pets. For that evening, The Salvation Army Naples Corps resembled Noah’s Ark, with dogs and rabbits accompanying them.
One elderly gentleman, who dried up after arriving cold and soaked, was given a cot by corps staff to rest on.
“One of the most beautiful things that came out of this was that everyone seeking shelter had an attitude of gratitude; there was no complaining, yelling or frustration,” said Hada. The corps’ entrance was watched by her husband, and the bathrooms were watched by her, allowing one person at a time to use them.
The families adapted themselves as best they could, Ada and Roger slept at the xorps, using the available cots, and sharing rooms with other families. Once the flooding outside had receded the next day after Hurricane Ian passed, everyone started returning home to see what could be salvaged.
Thankfully, God always provides, and we brought drinks, snacks, and anything else we could give the individuals.
“It was a beautiful night despite all the pain and aggravation,” said Hada. “Despite losing many things, despite a terrible situation, there were grateful hearts and harmony, which was beautiful to see.”
Through the afternoon of Monday, October 3, The Salvation Army has served 37,286 meals, 35,338 drinks, and 12,921 snacks, with 7,310 hours of active service and 1,786 emotional and spiritual care contacts across the state of Florida in response to Hurricane Ian.
To make a financial donation to support ongoing Hurricane Ida relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. For the latest disaster response information, go to disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.