When the Winds Died Down

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

As we approach the 5th year anniversary of Katrina, the nation is reflecting this week on tragedy that befell the Gulf Coast so many years ago and how the area has pressed on since. As an integral part of the community, The Salvation Army was there before the storm, and we were there after working to provide support and help rebuild.

The Salvation Army’s Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi Division posted an album on their Facebook page that looks back at their efforts to help those in need during the immediate aftermath. From serving food to providing medical support, The Salvation Army was a shining light during a very dark time.

But as we think back on the past five years, we also continue to look forward.

As a part of continuing recovery efforts, The Salvation Army is investing in projects, communities and individual lives in order to help the area become even stronger than before.

“When the Winds Died Down” gives a personal look at how members of the Gulf Coast community found support and hope from The Salvation Army. We’ll continue to post a new video each day this week that delves further into each individual’s personal story and how The Salvation Army helped them rebuild.

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EnviRenew – Helping New Orleans Progress from ‘Recovery’ to ‘Resiliency’

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hurricane Katrina displaced almost all of the New Orleans population when it slammed the Gulf Coast five years ago. Studies show that only about half of the population had returned a year later, increasing to two-thirds by fall of 2007.

While living in southeast Texas, I was surprised by how many people I met during the year following Hurricane Katrina who were hurricane evacuees still waiting to return home. They said they either had no where left to go or the conditions just weren’t liveable. Some said they decided to not go back at all. These conversations made me realize that restoring New Orleans was more than just cleaning up debris and reconstructing buildings. The heart and soul of the ‘Big Easy’ was its residents, but its residents were finding it very difficult to be able to return and thrive back home.

The Salvation Army of New Orleans recognized this problem and launched EnviRenew, a strategy to renew communities through continued Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. Envirenew began in 2006 and continues to find innovative ways to strengthen New Orleans.

[EnviRenew Home]
Pictured is an affordable, energy efficient home built through EnviRenew. These units are helping revive New Orleans communities, and they’re also designed to withstand strong weather.

The initiative really is amazing. They’ve awarded $10 million in grants to help rebuild 5 New Orleans neighborhoods. They’re constructing affordable, green homes for those in need, improving quality of life and breaking down the high cost barriers that prevent most of these people from being able to return and rebuild. They’re also attracting teachers and first responders to the neighborhoods to make them even stronger. The whole approach is making a positive difference and has even gained expert support.

The interior of an EnviRenew home.

Even 5 years after Hurricane Katrina, The Salvation Army remains committed to help New Orleans progress from a “recovering” city to a “resilient” city. This week you can even have an opportunity to be a part of this!

This Thursday, August 26, The Salvation Army will host a co-sponsored event with FedEx called “The Resiliency Summit.” New Orleans leaders along with national and local experts will celebrate the progress made over the past 5 years and discuss what it will take to create a vibrant and sustainable future for New Orleans communities. This event is free and open to the public, but you have to sign up beforehand! Register here.

Stay tuned to our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages for updates on this exciting event. For more information on Envirenew, visit their website at www.envirenew.org.

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Tune In This Weekend: CNN Special “New Orleans Rising”

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 29 marks the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Be sure to tune in to CNN this Saturday and Sunday night (August 21 and 22) at 8pm ET for ‘New Orleans Rising,’ a Soledad O’Brien documentary which chronicles the rebuilding efforts of the New Orleans neighborhood Pontchartrain Park.

The special will include a look at how The Salvation Army’s assistance helped this community recover.

You won’t want to miss it!

In addition, we’ll also be releasing videos and information every day next week regarding The Salvation Army’s efforts and New Orleans’ progress, so check back regularly at our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages!

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Pakistan in Recovery – A Firsthand View from A Salvation Army Officer

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yesterday we posted an updated bulletin regarding The Salvation Army’s ongoing relief work in Pakistan in response to the area’s devastating floods.

Today we are sharing the firsthand account of Major Dennis Gensler of The Salvation Army Pakistan Territory regarding his efforts in the recovering communities. Some of his narrative expands on the events described in yesterday’s bulletin, and much of the narrative provides additional detail exclusive to Major Gensler’s own experience. We hope it will provide you with a more personal view of The Salvation Army’s relief efforts and the plight of flood survivors.

“We left Territorial Headquarters Saturday 14 August at 4:30 am for the four hour trip to Islamabad to pick up other members of the Disaster team before going the remaining two hours to Charsadda. We were in two vehicles as the plan was to leave the four-wheel drive truck with the Islamabad team for their future visits to the flood areas.

We were grateful for the good organization that Captain Asif in Peshawar had arranged. Each family that was to be helped had a paper with their name and identification number on it and they were numbered from 1 to 100. After showing their identification card and giving their thumb print they were given a canvas bag with cooking utensils, pots, buckets, plates, cups, and kettles. They also received a foam mattress, a quilt and a large pillow. Everyone was very grateful for these very useful items. We did this in three places for a total of 300 families being assisted and it all ran very smoothly. We were able to have prayer at each location. We were joined by a few of the Bishops of other denominations and even a Muslim leader came and shared a few words at one of them. We also had the MPA (Member of Provincial Assembly) for the Peshawar area Prince Javed participate in one of the distributions. We are expecting to help at least 3,000 families in this area alone.

After a long day of passing out relief goods we went into Peshawar to spend the night at a guest house. Peshawar was not at all what I expected. It’s really a very large and modern place.

On Sunday morning we did some additional assessments at some of the areas affected by the flood waters. We visited some families whose small mud homes were missing walls and parts of the roof. One home had a large hole in a small bedroom where a woman was in mud up to her neck and had to be pulled out by a few men. They were already working on rebuilding some of the mud walls and in some cases they will use some bricks. It’s not that much stronger, since they don’t use cement with the bricks – only mud. One little boy in this area was holding a 9 mm pistol which he seemed to keep at his side, somewhat hidden. I wasn’t sure if it was real or a toy, but being an American in Peshawar I felt my heart race a bit. I called him and some other boys near to me for a picture. It’s hard to imagine the affect that all of this is going to have on the children. My heart was aching for each of them.

The really disturbing place that we visited was a village called Azhakhel, which as it turns out was an Afghan Refugee Camp. As I looked at the map it appears this place is right at the bend in the river. Another village just to the west is called Pabbi and they were hit just as hard. As far as we could see in either direction was total destruction. Villagers told us that there were around 15,000 families in these places, but we couldn’t verify that.

The work of recovery and rebuilding here in Pakistan will take years. They were already so far behind, but this will just send them back even further. I wish I could rely on the generous gifts from around the world to give what is necessary, but considering how Pakistan has become alienated from so many I don’t see that happening. I wish more people could see the Pakistan that I have come to see in the last six months. I’m certain they would give more.”

If you would like to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in Pakistan, you can donate by clicking here.

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The Salvation Army Aids 300 Families in Pakistan Amidst Flood Aftermath

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Salvation Army in Pakistan continued its initial response to the floods that have are now thought to have affected 20 million people by distributing bedding and cooking utensil packs to 300 families in Charsada. An assessment team visited Charsada a week earlier and discovered that the floods had devastated the town, wrecking homes and businesses.

The distribution team included Lieut-Colonel Yousaf Ghulam (Chief Secretary of the Salvation Army’s Pakistan Territory) and Lieut-Colonel Rebecca Yousaf (Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries).

The first distribution, to 100 families, took place at Charsada Bible Church. Lieut-Colonel Ghulam spoke to community members, offering sympathy.

The Bishop of Peshawar arrived during the distribution and thanked The Salvation Army for its work. Members of the local media were also present and asked many questions about The Salvation Army.

The next distribution was in a hujra (an annex to a main building) in Charsada for two hundred Muslim families. There was a large crowd of people already gathered when the team arrived but the proceedings went smoothly. The chief secretary gave a short message for the community and the bishop offered words of comfort. Local Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) Mr Javed Prince added a few words of sympathy for the community.

One of the recipients in Charsada was Noor Ali, a student. He told the Salvation Army team that his family fled their home when the waters began to rise. When they returned home the house was full of water.

He said: ‘We are determined to face this big challenge. We will do hard work to reconstruct our houses. At the moment we are having problems but we are brave and we can fight.’

Imran Azm, a policeman who works in Peshawar, collected supplies for his parents. He told team members that he is determined to provide for his family.

Both Noor and Imran expressed their gratitude for what they described as a ‘token of love’ given by The Salvation Army.

The next day, the team visited Academy Town Corps (Salvation Army church) to meet affected families. Assessment visits were also made to Nowshera, Pabi, Jahangia and Aza khail, all communities near the River Kabul.

In Aza khail the team saw people in desperate need. The community of around 15,000 people was near to the river and its houses were washed away. The people who remain explained that many bodies have yet to be found because they were swept away by the flood or buried under rubble.

The community members asked for tents to provide shelter. The Salvation Army is putting together funds so it can look to buy a large number of tents that will begin to address some of the people’s most urgent needs.

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Pakistan Update: Survivors Wary of Returning to Damaged Homes, Salvation Army Continues to Prepare Full Response

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Salvation Army continues to respond to the dire situation in Pakistan as communities recover from the destructive floods. Our teams are assessing the damage and working with the government and locals to learn how we can be of greatest support.

A donkey cart plods through flooded streets.

Captain Washington Daniel, the Salvation Army’s District Officer for Islamabad, went to Peshawar to assess the situation and reported:

“ Most houses are damaged badly or have fallen down completely due to the flood water. River water came into many houses, rising to above six feet in some places. People are looking for shelter, going to relatives’ houses or to churches.

People are feeling hopeless. The Government and other non-government agencies (NGOs) have not properly visited them, helped them or prayed with them. They said that people from The Salvation Army are the first to visit and pray with them.

In some areas there is still standing water and people are afraid to go back to see their homes. Their houses and what they owned is mixed with mud. The buildings and houses are cracked and not suitable for living in.”

Salvation Army personnel pray with flood survivors.

The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander from Islamabad sent the following update regarding their aid efforts:

“We met with the bishop of Peshawar’s team and they welcomed us, very thankful for The Salvation Army visit and our cooperation. In this meeting we discussed how we can manage and to start to help these people who have lost so much because of the flood.

They gave us a list of people in different areas in order to avoid duplication in distribution of assistance. I marked utensils (pots, pans, dishes) quilts, pillows, foam mattresses and gas cylinder burners that The Salvation Army will attempt to provide. We have identified 3000 families in need of assistance from the list we were given.

Our team also met with MPA Javid Prince and he showed his full support in all matter from government. For purchasing all goods, I propose we buy from Peshawar to save the transportation expense, because road conditions from Lahore to these areas are not good and for security, safety and for storage where we want to distribute we have no place.”

The first batch of relief aid to go up to the affected areas – essential goods bought with the initial funding – is being put together and will be sent as soon as it is ready to go.

If you’d like to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in Pakistan:

* visit our secure online donation page at https://secure.salvationarmy.org/.
* or mail a check or money to:

The Salvation Army World Service Office
International Disaster Relief Fund
PO Box 630728
Baltimore, MD 21263-0728
*Please note that your donation is for Pakistan*

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The Salvation Army Readies to Aid Pakistan Flood Survivors

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Salvation Army in Pakistan is preparing to help people who have lost their homes, possessions and possibly even loved ones in the worst floods in 80 years. The raging waters caused by monsoons have devastated many areas, especially in the northwest. It is thought that more than 1,400 people lost their lives in flooding which left 25,000 more trapped and awaiting rescue. More than a million people are thought to be homeless.

News coverage with video can be found here at BBC.com: Pakistan floods: Rescuers Aim to meet Stranded Victims

A letter posted on The Salvation Army Pakistan’s website reads:

“The government of Pakistan is looking for help from the NGO’s to assist with relief efforts. Our people have been doing some initial assessments and will continue gathering information on the work we will be able to do. We will also coordinate with government officials to fit in with providing assistance where it is needed and not duplicating a lot of services.

The DC (Divisional Commander) in Islamabad and the Corps Officers (Salvation Army leaders/pastors) from Peshawar have identified at least 3,000 families in the areas of Peshawar, Charsada, Noshera, Jhanghira, Tar Nab, and Rasalpur. They are in dire need of food, cooking/eating utensils, and bedding materials.”

Photos courtesy of The Salvation Army Pakistan’s website

The Salvation Army Pakistan has expressed their gratitude for prayers and practical support as they ready to serve these communities. The Salvation Army began its work in Pakistan in Lahore 1883 with Captain Victoria Roberts and a few other officers. Our organization has been living and serving in the communities ever since.

Visit The Salvation Army Pakistan’s website HERE to learn more information or donate to their relief efforts.

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Innovative New Equipment Helps Salvation Army Stretch Services for Area’s Hungry

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Salvation Army in Lubbock, TX has a brand new piece of equipment called the Rapid Response Unit that will help feed more people and boost efficiency. It’s not only the first of its kind, it’s also the only of its kind – no other Salvation Army in the nation has one yet!

According to their Facebook page, The Salvation Army of Lubbock says the Rapid Response Unit is small enough to fit in a truck bed or trailer and will expand their reach to 150 miles beyond the service area of Salvation Army canteens, larger mobile kitchens also used to serve food and drinks during emergencies.

The Rapid Response Unit was designed for on-the-street feedings and can hold up to 12 food trays, ice chests, drink containers, has plenty of room for storage and can be operated by one person. Salvation Army personnel are excited about serving the community with this versatile new equipment!

Check out a story on the Rapid Response Unit run by local news station FOX 34 here: Local Salvation Army reveals new, innovative equipment

Find more information about this and services offered by The Salvation Army Lubbock on their Facebook page or visit their website at http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/.

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Haiti: 6 Months Later

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Since responding to the massive earthquake that jarred Haiti six months ago, The Salvation Army continues work side by side the recovering communities. We have transitioned from focusing on the provision of immediate needs, including temporary shelter, food, water and medical aid, to providing for long-term needs that will help survivors get back to a level of normalcy in their lives.

And today, in an exciting step for many displaced Haitians, we’ve completed construction of 600 long-term intermediary housing shelters in Jacmel to help relocate those displaced by the earthquake back to their home communities.

Our Transitional Shelter Program has been a great way to empower Haitians during this reconstruction process. In a nation where more than 2/3 of the labor force is unemployed, more than 400 Haitians have been hired as carpenters and construction crew-members to assist in reconstruction efforts and be actively involved with reestablishing their communities.

The shelters house on average five people and last several years. With Haiti in the midst of its rainy season, their design will also enable them to withstand strong winds as well as drain water away from the structure, helping to reduce the spread of water-borne illnesses.

Now that hundreds of shelters have been built in Jacmel, The Salvation Army will work with Haitian government officials to plan the development of another 1,000-1,500 homes in the northern coastal community of Petit-Goâve, which was severely damaged by a strong earthquake aftershock in January.

We are excited by the steps being taken by Haitians and the The Salvation Army to help the country heal and emerge from this disaster stronger than before! As The Salvation Army’s Lt. Col. Dan Starrett stated, “These homes are the first steps of many in that direction.”

If you’d like to support our ongoing work in the country, you can give via www.salvationarmyusa.org, 1-800-SAL-ARMY and text messaging “HAITI” to 52000 with confirming “Yes.”

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The Salvation Army Readies for Hurricane Alex

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

As South Texas communities brace themselves for the effects of Hurricane Alex, The Salvation Army is already providing shelter and food to people in preparation for the first hurricane of the season.

Yesterday The Salvation Army opened the doors of its shelter in McAllen, TX to residents evacuating ahead of the storm. They housed 73 people, of which 23 were evacuees, and served 140 meals. They continue to remain on stand-by in case additional help is needed at any of the area designated shelters.

Mobile feeding units called canteens are in place and ready to serve in the southern Texas cities of Corpus Christi, Harlingen, McAllen and Laredo, Texas. Several more canteens are staged in San Antonio with staff and volunteers. The Salvation Army mobile kitchen, capable of preparing 20,000 meals daily, and generator have been made available and are ready for deployment if necessary. The Salvation Army will also provide clean-up kits if excessive flooding results from Hurricane Alex.

“The Salvation Army is anticipating several days of sheltering and mass feeding along the Gulf Coast area”, said Major Terry Israel, Divisional Secretary in Texas.“ These services will be available at least through Friday, and as long as the need exists.”

For more information about The Salvation Army emergency disaster services program or to support The Salvation Army’s emergency relief efforts, please visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. For the latest updates on Salvation Army disaster activities, follow our Disaster Services team on Twitter @SalArmyEDS.

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