Army helps pick up pieces from Hurricane Ike

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Recovery from Gustav continues

Salvation Army canteens travel to areas of Texas and Louisiana affected by recent hurricanes.

On Saturday September 13, as Hurricane Ike was still pounding Texas and Louisiana, The Salvation Army deployed five mobile disaster response units as part of three Texas National Guard “Strike Teams.” The Army is currently planning its long-term response.

“The early indications are that this storm is the worst of the five we have already responded to in the 2008 hurricane season,” said Major Marshall Gesner, Greater Houston area commander. “With millions of people without power, wide-spread flooding and high temperatures forecast for the area, our response will be about twice the size of our effort for Hurricane Gustav.”

Widespread destruction
In Galveston, Tex., water from the Gulf of Mexico flooded miles and miles of neighborhoods. Debris is everywhere; buildings are torn apart.

“The devastation is heart-wrenching,” said Captain Brett Meredith. The Army has established four incident command locations (Galveston, Beaumont, Houston and Lufkin) throughout the state of Texas and has served more than 60,000 meals since evacuations began prior to the storm’s landfall.

The Army is serving at many church shelters engaged by the state and at fixed feeding sites in city centers. The state estimates as many as 2.8 million people are without power and will likely be so for weeks to come.

Additionally, concerns exist regarding drinkable water and the sewage systems in Galveston and Houston are assumed compromised. Hundreds of thousands of people may be displaced for weeks to come, requiring longer-term emergency assistance from The Salvation Army.

The Army began staging its overall disaster response effort in San Antonio and Tyler earlier in the week of Sept. 8. In total, the Army had more than 60 canteens on active duty for this storm. Three 48-foot, mobile kitchens have been deployed to the most affected areas. The Army is also using new satellite communications equipment that creates local phone and Internet networks for its incident command teams. Throughout Texas, the Army is supporting the evacuation and shelter effort in at least 12 locations.

Work without ceasing
All of this falls fast on the heels of the Army’s response to hurricane Gustav. In these efforts, the Army served more than 100,000 meals in Baton Rouge, La., alone, to the millions who evacuated from New Orleans.

Major James Taylor, Texas divisional secretary, expressed concern that the relief efforts for the multiple storms have strained the Army’s resources: “We’ll need public support to ensure a viable long-term response effort for the many people we expect will be in need.”

The Salvation Army’s disaster response activities are supported entirely through the generosity of individual and organizational donations. In the early stages of a disaster such as this, the Army acts first on faith to meet the immediate needs of those affected by the storms, in hopes that donations will follow to fund a sustained disaster response and recovery operation. Donations can be made at and by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

Fast facts: The Army’s response to Ike
– The Salvation Army has dispatched 60 mobile feeding units (canteens) and over 80 personnel to affected areas. If needed, 70 canteens from other states are on stand-by.
– The Salvation Army has served nearly 60,000 hot meals, sandwiches, snacks and drinks.
– The Salvation Army has 3 field kitchens—each capable of producing 20,000 hot meals per day—serving the many areas affected.
– The Salvation Army has stockpiled 45,000 cleaning kits (broom, bucket, mop and detergent) for distribution.
– Salvation Army officers are providing comfort, spiritual and emotional care to those affected and first responders.

Compiled from various Army sources

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