Indian cyclone pummels Orissa­- Army on the job

“We will be a people committed to
world-wide missions, willing to share with the worldwide Salvation Army our resources
of people and money in order to win the world for Jesus.”

VILLAGERS IN ORISSA, India, without food or water, ford a river to get assistance.


“People are returning to life,” said Major Theodore Mahr, executive secretary of The Salvation Army Health Services advisory council in India. “Men, women and children have been bathing and washing clothes in the canal that just a few weeks ago was littered with human bodies and animal carcasses,” he said.

Thousands were killed and more than a million left homeless as cyclones slammed into the five districts of the state of Orissa, in October. Winds of up to 160 mph and a tidal wave hammered the area, devastating a large portion of that state and causing what has been called, “the worst flooding in India’s history.”

Mahr has been working with Salvation Army Emergency Response Medical teams that are providing humanitarian assistance to a community of 10,000 in the Paradeep area. His wife, Major Roslyn Mahr, is administrator of the Evangeline Booth Hospital in Ahmednagar. Both are Western Territory officers.

While medical assistance is important to victims, Mahr stated, there is a greater need for psychological and emotional care, and for the rebuilding of the infrastructure. “Medical work …should also be seen as an entry point for pastoral care of the traumatized,” he said.

Recently, he saw just three people working in the rice fields, which had been flooded with saline water. “There were many people clearing and cutting up downed trees. People were sorting out their homes and shops and beginning to demolish or repair them. There did not seem to be an unusual number of people idle, but there were people, alone and in groups who appeared to be in shock and grief.”

According to reports, relief work will continue into the new year.

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