Army Rushes Earthquake Relief to Taiwan
A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan at 1:47 a.m. on September 21, killing more than 2,000, injuring thousands, and leaving even more homeless. Large landslides wiped out roads, bridges were destroyed, and a dam started to break.
Major Patricia Rowe said, “The building shook violently and I looked out the window to see a red glow; I thought that we were being bombed. My husband and I then ran down to the streets for safety for fear that the building would collapse.”
After realizing it was an earthquake, Major Dennis Rowe, Regional Commander, began assessing the status of the Army’s facilities and personnel on the island and determined that buildings had suffered only some minor damage, and that the officers and their families were shaken but unharmed. He then marshaled the forces of the 11 officers from the five corps in Taiwan to start meeting the needs of the survivors. They traveled many hours to begin distributing food and water. This was followed by thousands of tents, sleeping bags, and personal care items. The items were provided directly to individuals as well as to other organizations such as: the government, the local Presbyterian church, World Vision, and the Christian Community Relief Agency (CCRA), of which the Army is a member. All items were clearly marked with Salvation Army stickers.
A medical team from Japan responded to provide much needed medical assistance to the survivors and 300 body bags. The Hong Kong Command, hours after the event, supported the efforts with money, in-kind donations, and emergency responders and will continue to send personnel for the next several months. A team of counselors and a registered nurse came from Singapore to work in the Puli Christian Hospital, which was overwhelmed due to the destruction of the government hospital.
The Western Territory gave a $25,000 donation to purchase a much-needed four wheel drive van and sent Tom McSherry, territorial EDS coordinator, to assist with the assessment and planning for the next phase of operation. “I am amazed at the tremendous amount of work that was accomplished by so few personnel, who themselves were participants and now survivors of this catastrophic event,” said McSherry.
The Army will continue supporting the survivors individually and through other relief agencies in the coming months.
This is an example of the cooperative spirit of the worldwide Salvation Army to meet the challenges of responding to a major disaster.