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Army assists stranded, homeless

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Portland storms

by Tarah Nimz – 

Daily activities came screeching to a halt in Portland, Ore., recently, when heavy snow and ice blanketed the ground. For nearly a week, the typically mild and rainy Northwest winter gave way to record cold temperatures which shut down the light rail system, closed schools and businesses and forced cancellation of all flights out of Portland International Airport, stranding thousands of passengers for several days.

While the storm left most Portlanders trapped in their homes for days, unable to get to school or work, The Salvation Army was out at the airport, literally breaking the ice and making new friends.

Stranded travelers, most of whom were not typical of recipients of Army services, found themselves on the receiving end when they were marooned at the airport for up to four days. True to their mission, The Salvation Army was on the scene greeting the city’s unwilling guests with food and hotel vouchers, blankets, toiletry kits, hot beverages and toys for children.

Back in the city, freezing temperatures can mean life or death for the homeless. The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center went into emergency mode, opening the shelter around the clock and sending a team to rescue people off the streets. They also distributed blankets, scarves, mittens and coffee to ward off the cold.

“This storm was proof that even the most extreme weather conditions can’t stop the Army from quickly responding to meet local needs,” said Major Cathryn Russell, secretary for program in the Cascade Division.


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