Northwest hit with severe weather
Salvation Army aids in disaster relief, keeps people warm
by Stacy Howard –
Just one week into the New Year, 14 western Washington counties suffered flooding, some only 13 months after the state’s worst floods in history. The Salvation Army responded quickly to affected areas where staff and volunteers provided food, shelter, spiritual care and any other duties needed to aid in the relief.
More than 600 clean-up kits were distributed throughout flood regions with more going out as recovery efforts continue. The Salvation Army is still assessing the situation in affected areas as waters continue to recede.
Just a day prior to the floods, The Salvation Army fed hundreds of volunteers who raced against the clock to scrape at least a foot of snow from rooftops. Heavy snowfall caused roofs to collapse in Lewis County homes, some which had recently been renovated from the 2007 floods.
Seattle also endured heavy snows, setting records for the worst storm in several decades with life-threatening cold temperatures and road closures that nearly shut down the city. Despite the snow, The Salvation Army’s annual Toy ‘N Joy event stayed open and more than 6,000 children received Christmas gifts.
Not everything operated as usual. The Salvation Army’s donation trucks at the Seattle Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) were inoperable for four days due to road conditions. The natural disaster equated to a financial disaster for the ARC, which provides free drug and alcohol rehabilitation services at the 114-bed facility.
The Salvation Army’s family thrift stores, which provide the primary source of funding for the ARC program, also had to close for several days because of the storms. This loss of donations and store sales income has created a serious deficit in the center’s annual operational budget for the year ahead.
The William Booth Center has kept its doors open. The center is available year-round, but the staff has made sure extra beds are available this winter. Normally the center provides housing for nearly 200 men in emergency and transitional programs; this season it has welcomed additional clients seeking warmth.
The Salvation Army also works closely with the city of Seattle to provide two additional shelters, including a co-ed one at City Hall and a women-only shelter at a separate location. The Army refers clients to the city shelters as needed, from October through March.
The Northwest Division will continue providing assistance, shelter and other necessities as needed when natural disasters strike, the economy shifts or a lone person seeks a helping hand.