We salute the Salvation Army and its work

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The Salvation Army building on Greensboro Avenue was one of the first structures in town to take a direct hit April 27 from the massive tornado that went on to devastate much of Tuscaloosa, Holt and other communities in the county.

Since the Salvation Army is in the business of helping people, the loss of its headquarters posed a problem, but not one that deterred the employees and volunteers of this army.

Despite the fact that many of those involved with the Salvation Army’s work were victims of the storm themselves, the organization remained focused on its core mission: helping disaster victims in need. Since the storm, workers and volunteers have served more than 30,000 hot meals at mobile canteens near the tornado’s path and have provided water and snacks to emergency personnel and construction crews dealing with the wreckage.

Over the weekend, volunteers moved items from a an undamaged warehouse to the former Goody’s store in McFarland Mall. That more permanent location began serving as a center where victims began receiving assistance yesterday.

When the tornado hit, there were 10 staff members, five volunteers and 24 clients in the building on Greensboro. All took refuge in the building’s dining room. And like many of the miraculous stories that have emerged from that terrible Wednesday afternoon, the only part of the building that was left standing was that dining room, where all emerged unhurt.

Staff and volunteers immediately began taking care of people, even though many of their resources were gone with the wind. Injured victims on the south side began making their way toward the Salvation Army building, where the staff and first responders did the best they could to treat their wounds.

Ever since the storm, the Salvation Army has sent in volunteers from across the country to assist the workers here, even as plans are being formulated to rebuild.

“We’re all here for the same purpose — to help people who are having a bad run of luck find a little help and hope to move on,” Laine Hendricks, a public information officer who works out of San Francisco, said last week.

Maj. Steve Morris, incident commander for The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services operations in Tuscaloosa, said now that the organization has a roof over its head, workers and volunteers are prepared to handle case management for victims.

“We’ll have people on staff here to talk with people as well, to just be a listening ear and provide one-on-one care as much as people will allow,” he said. “Our commitment is to continue to provide that for the community, and we hope people see value in that.

“We’ve been here over 101 years, and we’re not going anywhere.”

Which should be comforting to the entire community.


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