Monday, April 18, 2011
On April 18, 1906, 125 years ago today, the city of San Francisco was shattered by a magnitude 8.25 earthquake. Three days of fires followed, as many as 3,000 people lost their lives, and 225,000 of the city’s 400,000 citizens were left homeless. All but two of the Salvation Army’s buildings in San Francisco were destroyed in the earthquake.
Despite their own losses, The Salvation Army was a major part of the recovery and revival of the city following the historic disaster. In the wake of significant human suffering, the loss of their buildings was minor. Salvation Army personnel established feeding stations and shelters throughout San Francisco and into Oakland, meeting refugees as they ferried over. Chinese Salvationists from San Francisco played a major role in feeding thousands of survivors.
News of the efforts reached The Salvation Army’s National Commander Evangeline Booth, daughter of founder William Booth. She appealed to the public in New York for assistance, encouraging them with her father’s words, “Do something! Do the most you can – do it well – do it now!” She raised an astounding $12,000, which would equal more than $300,000 today.
Salvationist spent several weeks caring for those in need and continued to be a part of San Francisco’s long term recovery. Yet, their resolve never faltered.
Commissioner Evangeline Booth reflected on the experience, saying, “The natural hopefulness, I was going to say sunniness, of the California disposition has stood them in good stead; all their troubles and privations have not been able to keep them under. They have spirits like corks and come up with a bounce every time.”
For more information on The Salvation Army’s long history of emergency disaster response, please click here. http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf/vw-text-dynamic-arrays/190F4B74F5ED5E81852574B70000119F?openDocument
Monday, April 18, 2011
The Salvation Army has been actively responding to disasters across the southern United States this weekend, following a large tornado outbreak in multiple states and wildfires.
In Oklahoma, local Army units worked around the clock in Tushka, Oklahoma after a deadly tornado hit the area. They worked with the Red Cross and the Choctaw Nation to provide more than 1,000 sandwiches, 500 meals, 1,500 snacks, and dozens of cases of drinks to survivors and first responders. In addition, the Army helped deliver hardware such as tarp material, hammers, and nails.
Tornadoes also severely damaged Mississippi communities. Salvation Army personnel rotated between two sites in Jackson to ensure all survivors were served hot meals. They are currently assessing the damage and planning how to respond to people’s material needs.
At a twin tornadoes strike site in Virginia, the Army is offering emotional and spiritual care. In addition to serving hundreds of hot meals and bottled water, volunteers and staff have distributed 160 cleaning kits and hundreds of sealable storage containers to families who are cleaning their homes. The Salvation Army is also giving out gift cards to help people buy housing repair items.
The Salvation Army responded to 4 separate wildfire outbreaks in southwestern Oklahoma. Officers and volunteers worked into the early morning hours passing out more than 1,000 meals and drinks, as well as 150 hygiene kits. In Lawton, Oklahoma, The Salvation Army is coordinating with the American Red Cross to make sure all needs are met.
This comes less than a week after wildfires destroyed more than 200,000 acres across West Texas and ruined nearly 50 homes. The Salvation Army responded by serving nearly 1500 meals during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Friday, April 15, 2011
As a result of the constitutional crisis in the Ivory Coast, many people are fleeing to neighboring Liberia and Ghana for safety. Since there is no Salvation Army presence in the Ivory Coast, The Salvation Army’s Ghana Territory and Liberia Command are both determining how to best respond.
Our personnel along the border have described the distressing condition of hundreds of escapees who have recently crossed into Ghana, saying, “They have little clothing, shelter or personal resource.”
The Salvation Army of Liberia sent a team of three officers to the border where more than 30,000 refugees had been registered by the United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHCR). The team reported that conditions for the refugees were very poor and that there is a great need for food, water, bedding, medicine and clothes – particularly with the rainy season ahead.
Leaders from both countries have applied to Salvation Army International Headquarters for funding so they can begin work with the refugees.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Recently the Chevron Corporation Foundation teamed up with The Salvation Army to help the recovery of New Zealand following the earthquakes that struck in September 2010 and February 2011.
They generously donated $100,000 to our recovery efforts!
The Chevron Corporation has been partners with The Salvation Army New Zealand for several years. Mr. Donald Campbell, a representative from Chevron Corporation’s Government and Public Affairs office, met with The Salvation Army while he was visiting the country.
Our personnel were able to update him on the Army’s ongoing involvement in Christchurch and share with him how their donated funds were being put to good use in the community.
After the discussions Mr. Campbell expressed interest in Chevron becoming further involved in supporting the recovery process.
We appreciate Chevron’s incredible support in helping us rebuild lives in New Zealand. They are a valuable partner in helping The Salvation Army serve others in need!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Commissioner Makoto Yoshida of The Salvation Army Japan provided us with an updated report on relief work taking place in the country.
General recovery efforts are progressing well – super markets are gradually reopening, 80-90% of gas stations in northern Japan have resumed business, and about 70% of roads are accessible. The Japanese government is significantly supporting the country’s relief efforts and providing much of the needed temporary housing.
However, he says the unresolved nuclear power station failure is causing uneasiness in the public. The search for missing people also remains daunting, as officials estimate there are 12,000 dead, 15,000 missing and 166,000 evacuees.
The Salvation Army Japan remains committed in their efforts, and we have brief updates from our dispersed disaster teams:
SENDAI: A team of 17 relief personnel and volunteers visited in March 23, distributing 1,130 meals and necessities, along with candy to the 83 children present. At that time, water and electricity supply was mostly restored, but gas is expected to take much longer. Supplies have been gradually reaching disaster areas, but camps have requested more tissues, diapers, and underwear. The Salvation Army believes that due to increased stability, food distribution may no longer be necessary in Sendai, and they’re exploring the possibility of visiting areas with greater need about 100 km north.
YABUKI-CHO: The Salvation Army Japan’s Major Kenji Fujii and Captain Kazuyuki Ishikawa met with the city’s mayor. They learned 52% of the area’s water has been restored, and they have plenty of food and drinking water. However, fuel and daily necessities are in short supply. The Salvation Army left with the town all the supplies they brought, but they have not received a request for additional help.
IWAKI CITY: Team members visited Iwaki City, which is just over 30km outside of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station. On March 24 they distributed 500 hot meals and 6,000 bottles of water. However, as food and supplies are becoming more readily available, Iwaki City officials have not requested additional support from the Army.
KESENNUMA : Kesennuma lies 120 km north of Sendai along the coast line, and the city is badly damaged. The Salvation Army is sending two teams to distribute food and necessities April 12-15. They expect to give out 1,000 meals and 5,000 bottles of water, as well as candy for the 100 children in the area.
RIKUZEN-TAKADA : Rikuzen-Takada also lies on the coast, 30 km north-east from Kesennuma, and was badly damaged by the tsuname. A team is presently distributing hundreds of hot meals and water. They are looking into further ways they may assist.
Friday, April 1, 2011
FedEx has a long history of supporting survivors of natural disasters worldwide. They’ve even partnered with us during many of our local and international relief efforts.
We want to express our gratitude to them yet again, as FedEx has committed $1 million to support the Japan disaster relief work of several non-profit organizations, including $100,000 to The Salvation Army.
Their donation will come in the form of in-kind transportation, which will be a huge help to our work. It’s usually extremely expensive and inefficient to ship materials long distance when they can be bought locally to the disaster site. But there are some things, such as technologies, medical supplies, specialized items, or scarce materials, that are not readily available and must be transported from afar.
The Salvation Army in Japan is working diligently at several sites assisting survivors. Besides blankets, they have not yet requested additional materials from our Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) here in the United States. If and when they do express additional needs over the course of rebuilding, we are prepared to respond quickly.
We are extremely grateful to FedEx, whose donation will go a long way in supporting Japan recovery.
To learn more about FedEx disaster relief efforts, visit news.fedex.com or about.fedex.com.
Friday, April 1, 2011
Donna Britt is a Salvation Army Advisory Board member and news anchor with WAFB in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was traveling with her family in Tokyo when the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.
The way her story unfolds is no less than eerie. While they were visiting the Science and Technology Museum the day before, a volunteer showed her husband an earthquake sensor exhibit with real-time readouts indicating recent tremors.
It was the next day when Donna’s family was on their way to a Natural Disaster Museum to experience their “earthquake simulator” when they found themselves in the middle of the real thing!
Now safely back home in the United States, she’s written an account of the event and shared it under her bio at news station WAFB’s site. You can read her complete story of the events here: http://www.wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=14305750
Here’s a brief excerpt:
“Tren”, she said, motioning above her head that the subway train may have rattled us. But immediately the shuddering intensified and I felt one of my feet rise, independent of the other…then my second foot rose right after it. THE TILE FLOOR WAS RIPPLING. Disconcerted, I placed my hand on the tile wall to steady myself when the wall rippled. I looked and the tile was moving with ridges like waves passing over it.
…for that one split-second, my mind said “the last place you want to be in an earthquake is UNDERGROUND”.
Monday, March 28, 2011
“Ame ni Mo Makezu,” is one of Japan’s most famous poems. Roughly translated, the title means “don’t be defeated by the rain.” Its inspirational message encourages people to have hope and fight the world’s heartache by standing up for those in need.
Jackie Chan and dozens of Hong Kong singers and actors have adapted this poem into a new song, “Succumb Not to Sorrow,” which will be the theme of their upcoming Japan relief concert. Love Without Borders 3/11 Candelight Gala will be held on April 1 in Hong Kong with proceeds from the event going to The Salvation Army’s relief efforts.
But Jackie Chan isn’t the only celebrity using his star power to help Japan. We reported last week that Britney Spears donated 2 tickets to her Sunday performance taping for Good Morning America. California radio station Wild 94.9 decided to auction them off and donate the proceeds to The Salvation Army’s disaster efforts. We heard the winning bidder put up more than $1,000 for the tickets, which will go straight to supporting Japan!
For our latest Japan relief update, click here.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Our emergency teams in Japan tell us disaster response is going well and that most areas in need of assistance have been reached.
They’re still providing necessities such as food and water in Sendai and also in Yabuki-cho, both of which are near Fukushima but outside the exclusion zone around the nuclear power plant. Yabuki-cho seems to be one of the few areas not yet reached by government help.
Some areas hit harder by the disaster are still not accessible, but our workers in Japan believe other NGO’s are also not being allowed into these parts. The exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant is still in place and local reports say the situation is improving.
The Salvation Army in Korea has provided bottled water to Japan, and The Salvation Army World Services Organization (SAWSO) in the USA is organizing a delivery of blankets. They’ve also offered to send food packages if needed.
As many of you know, there has been a generous financial response to The Salvation Army’s Japan Disaster Appeal! Our Japan Territory believes funds already available in-country will cover the costs of the current response and that money raised from around the world will enable a medium to long-term response. The territory is considering building temporary accommodations and providing household goods and equipment, but these plans are still at the early stages.
Salvation Army in Japan Considers Long-Term Disaster Response
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Lis Bennett (top right) poses with some of her Japanese students.
Lis Bennett is a young American who has been teaching English in Japan for 5 years. When the earthquake and tsunami struck, she lived only 25 miles away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that is now the focus of much international attention.
For security measures, she was evacuated yesterday by her employing organization to the United States as radiation fears increased. After spending many years pouring into the local community and lives of her students, it is difficult for her to suddenly leave behind these dear friends and a country she’s grown to love.
The Daily News out of New York ran an interview with Lis in which she discussed what it was like at the school when the earth started shaking and the state of Japan in the days after. You can read the article here.
The school where Lis taught.
A friend of The Salvation Army, Lis shared with us via email how these events have affected her personally:
“Since this started, there have been days of peace and days where there is NO peace. It’s been a real roller-coaster ride for my emotions… Since there became concerns that the radiation was reaching our area, our bosses (the family who takes care of us so well) made a very difficult decision to send our whole team home. Which is a relief in some ways, yet so heartbreaking in others. I know in my heart that it’s best for us to go, but my heart aches deeply for the people of Japan, leaving these friends that I love so dearly, while they are here amidst devastation.
The family who takes care of us and many of my friends will stay in their homes until the [government] tells them they can no longer live here…this is their home, the one they’ve spent their lives building up…my heart is breaking.
It’s humbling to realize that some things, no matter how hard we try, can never be on our control. But what a relief to let go and just fall into the loving arms of our heavenly father, who’s the one IN control…THAT’S when we find our rest, reassurance, comfort, and peace…I am so thankful to know that God will make a way where there seems to be none…especially for Japan.”
To learn more about how The Salvation Army is providing relief to Japan, including Fukushima evacuees, click here. Thank you for your continuous prayers for the people of Japan.