September 1, 2008
Salvation Army Ready to Deploy Tomorrow Morning
It’s not just the size of the storm that separates ministry’s response to Gustav from its response to Katrina.
The Salvation Army plans on deploying its prepositioned forces tomorrow morning in a pincer movement from the east from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and from the northwest from Tyler, Texas, against the ravages of Hurricane Gustav.
From Mississippi a command team with 25 canteens, a satellite communications trailer, and a mobile kitchen on an 18-wheeler will rumble down the highway. The team will pick up prepositioned supplies to take to the Louisiana tri-city area of Lake Charles, Lafayette, and Alexandria, where heavy flooding is anticipated. A similar unit will sweep from Texas, picking up more units in Shreveport, Louisiana, and elsewhere. There are also Salvation Army units waiting in a northern band right outside of the city of New Orleans.
The Salvation Army learned from Katrina that they needed to preposition more units and supplies.
"Our response is different from Katrina," said Major Gene Hogg, the Unified Incident Commander from the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi division. "First, there is a lot more preparedness. Second, we are taking this threat more seriously." At a planning meeting last Thursday, Hogg says the Salvation Army knew that they had to avoid thinking "we have gone through many hurricanes before. In Katrina we had 11 canteens prestaged." This time, the Army has 25 canteens in Hattiesburg alone. A similar number is in Texas, with additional canteens others scattered around the region. And more canteens are on the way, with the prepositioning supplies in Florida and the Carolinas for the next storms rumbling on the horizon.
The Army has already served more than 100,000 meals to refugees scattered from Kentucky to Texas.
"Anytime you send people into the unknown we worry," Hogg said. "But Christ is sufficient for us. We know that we are held in the palm of Christ, who puts a hedge of protection around us." The Salvation Army has additional hedges as well, particularly in preparing staff through the strains and potential dangers of disaster relief. As a rule, the Army will not send married couples together but rotate each spouse every week or ten days, allowing some time for couples to be together outside the emergency zone.
The Salvation Army is taking donations at salvationarmyusa.org, which notes that a $100 donation will feed a family of four for two days and provide two cases of drinking water and a household cleaning kit.
Christianity Today's past coverage of Hurricane Katrina is archived on our site. For now, the CT Liveblog is where we're covering Hurricane Gustav.