National Preparedness Month – Part 1

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The following was contributed by Guest Blogger Jeff Jellets, Territorial Disaster Coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Southern Headquarters in Atlanta, GA.

September is National Preparedness Month.

The timing is always curious to me. September is the historical peak of hurricane season and most years, I’m way too busy responding to a looming tropical cyclone to think – at that point anyway — much of preparedness. When you live in the path of hurricanes, the best time to prepare is … well … way before September 1st.

But September 2011 also marks the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a terrible event that also serves as a somber reminder that America, as a people and a nation, must be always be prepared. As www.ready.gov, FEMA’s disaster preparedness website, succinctly states September 2011 marks a “Time To Remember. A Time To Prepare.”

And, while most of my Septembers have been preoccupied with the paths and intensities of tropical storms, 9/11 has always remained a day apart. I served in New York City at the World Trade Center site, and not a year passes in my life when that day is not marked in remembrance. I am sure most Americans will take “Time To Remember” those that were lost on that terrible day in 2001 and, like me, will also take time to honor all those who continue to serve our great country today.

But what does “A Time To Prepare” really mean?

First, prepare yourself, your family and your home. This means developing a family disaster plan, building a family disaster kit, and protecting your home from the most common disaster hazards. For example, every home should have a smoke detector to protect your family from fire, and every home should have a weather radio to warn your family of dangerous weather. What if you had to evacuate? Where would you go? If your family was separated in emergency, how would you reconnect with one another after reaching safe locations? These are questions you should answer long before disasters threaten.

Don’t let your family become disaster victims! Be survivors. By preparing, you not only protect yourself and those you love, but you also put yourself into a position where you are much more likely to be able to help others. Just as importantly, by being ready to take care of yourself, you allow professional emergency responders to focus their attention on life-saving efforts for others who may be trapped are in the areas hardest hit by the disaster.

Second, prepare your community. And in this sense, I mean community in the broadest sense of the word. First, you need to think about your neighborhood. In an emergency, it is often your neighbors who will be the first people to rush to help. In a catastrophic incident, like an earthquake or ice storm, where whole communities are affected, professional emergency responders may need to time to reach your particular area. Know the people in your neighborhood who have special needs, such as the elderly or small children, and plan to check-in on them during a crisis to ensure they are okay. Likewise, identify people in your neighborhood with special skills or training. If a doctor or nurse lives on your block, that’s important to know.

Now extend your community preparedness efforts beyond where you live. Think about where you work, where your children go to school or daycare, where you worship, and even the car you drive. Disasters can occur at any time or place … so it is just as important to have a disaster plan for your workplace or church and a disaster kit in your car as well as your home. Talk to your children’s school or daycare about their emergency plans and make sure they have a procedure for reunifying you with your child in the event of an emergency.

Third, prepare to help others. Once you have taken care of yourself, your family and your community, then you can start thinking about helping others. The most important thing to remember here is to help appropriately. In the United States, most municipalities have a disaster response and recovery plan coordinated by a local emergency management agency. If you want to help, you have to fit into that plan. One of the easiest ways to do so is to affiliate with an existing voluntary agency, like The Salvation Army, or check to see if your community supports a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Another important point to remember is that training is essential. The Salvation Army, among other voluntary agencies, offers disaster training. If you are not sure where to start, let me recommend basic first aid and CPR. Basic lifesaving skills have application far beyond just disaster response; even on the quietest day, someone around you might become injured or ill and it may be up to you to help save their life.

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you by this point to take emergency preparedness a bit more seriously this September than you have in the past. If so, let me give you one more challenge – Don’t stop preparing on September 31st!

As Spencer W. Kimball said, “Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program.” Make your emergency preparedness and planning efforts more than a one month endeavor. Revisit and update your family and neighborhood disaster plans periodically. Change the supplies in your family disaster kit so the food, water, batteries and other perishables stay fresh. In short, don’t let the major lessons of past disasters fade away.

Stay tuned for “What’s In Your Disaster Kit?” in Part 2 of our National Preparedness Month blog – coming soon!

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The Salvation Army Prepares for National Emergency

Friday, August 26, 2011

In preparation for Hurricane Irene, all divisions of The Salvation Army stand ready to support the impacted areas along the East Coast between the Carolinas and New England.

Although the hurricane has not yet hit the U.S. coast, Commissioner William Roberts declared the storm a national disaster today after confirmation that the hurricane, which is predicted to affect multiple states, will definitely make landfall. The Salvation Army has ensured that all units throughout the United States are on alert and prepared with staff, equipment and supplies.

Mobile feeding units throughout the country are standing by, ready to provide hundreds of thousands of meals per day if called upon. In the Carolinas alone, 30 mobile canteens are set up and an Incident Command Team, established in Charlotte, is ready to deploy once the storm passes.

Salvation Army efforts continue to support the 800,000 impacted by Hurricane Irene in Puerto Rico. Shelters continue to be available in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix. In the Bahamas, food and water has been distributed to the Kingston emergency operations center.

“As The Salvation Army now moves into strategic positions that will put us directly at the point of need, we are praying for all of those who will be caught in the direct path of this very large storm”, said Major George Hood, National Communications and Development Secretary for The Salvation Army.

Please make sure you are prepared with a plan in case of emergency. Critical decisions need to be made ahead of time, before the storm makes landfall.

Please Check back for updates. You can also find updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Monetary donations can be made online at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by texting the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone.*

* A one‐time donation of $10 will be billed to your mobile phone bill. Messaging & data rates may apply. Donations are collected for The Salvation Army by mobilecause.com. Reply STOP to 85944 to stop. Reply HELP to 85944 for help. For terms, see www.igfn.org/t.

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The Salvation Army Responding to Lincoln, CA Fire

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A propane rail tanker fire has residents in Lincoln, California evacuating their homes while Firefighters let the tanker burn itself out.

The Salvation Army has been aiding local evacuees by providing Emergency Disaster Services canteens at the Lincoln Community Center and two other sites. The Salvation Army has served more than 600 meals while the mandatory evacuation is in place. It’s still unclear how the tanker caught fire.

Almost 5,000 homes in the city of 40,000 people were evacuated due to the burning propane and potentially catastrophic explosion that could ensue. Although the heat is intense and thus slowing their efforts, firefighters are still working on the burning process and expect that the blaze should be under control within 24 hours. The mandatory evacuation will remain in place at least through the end of today.

The Salvation Army will be set up to help those in need until the area is deemed safe.

If you’d like to make a donation for this relief, please visit GoSalArmy.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. All donations should be designated “Lincoln Fire.”

For more information on The Salvation Army’s Disaster Relief Efforts, please visit www.salvationarmyusa.org.

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Update on Hurricane Irene

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

800,000 people in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are currently without electricity due to Hurricane Irene. Storm damage involved flooding, fallen trees, and roof damage. Thankfully, the damage was not as severe as originally anticipated and no fatalities have been reported.

The Emergency Operations Center in Puerto Rico remains open and the Divisional Headquarters Facility is fully operational. A Salvation Army Liaison Officer is also present at the scene.

There have been minimal requests for service received with some Corps providing small amounts of support to Corps members, the homeless, sick, and disabled. Salvation Army shelters have opened in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix.

The storm has since strengthened with the possibility of turning into a Category 4 by Saturday’s expected landfall in the southeast. This is the first hurricane in almost three years to seriously threaten the U.S.. The Salvation Army continues to meet, plan, and prepare for the coming storm.

Check back here for updates. You can also visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for up-to-date news.

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Salvation Army Readies for Hurricane Irene

Monday, August 22, 2011

As Hurricane Irene strikes the coast of Puerto Rico and gradually moves towards Florida and South Carolina, The Salvation Army stands ready to spring into action. The storm, currently producing 80 mph winds, is expected to hit the East Coast on Saturday.

Major damage in Puerto Rico was evidenced over the weekend resulting in half of the island experiencing no electricity and leaving many people without water. The significant possibility of other severe storms, tornados, and flooding has residents in all parts of Florida to the Carolinas keeping a close eye on the threatening storm.

The Salvation Army is prepared in the case that Hurricane Irene makes landfall. Specifically, the Florida Division of the Salvation Army is equipped with 40 mobile kitchens, shower trailers, field kitchens, and additional equipment strategically placed around the state.

We’d like to encourage you to prepare an emergency supply kit, make an evacuation plan, and stay on top of all storm warnings. Please check back for updates. You can also find updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Salvation Army Provides Water to Drought-Hit Communities in Kenya

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Salvation Army is responding to the drought crisis in East Africa by providing water to the people of the Turkana region of northern Kenya. Due to the current scarcity, people in this region are forced to travel more than two miles on average to access water. As a result, schools are closing because they lack the funds to pay food and water bills.

The Salvation Army is funding almost $50,000 to cover the fuel, labor, and maintenance costs for water tanks and tractors for six months. Water will be collected from boreholes, transported to the large water tanks, and taken to communities and schools in Turkana. Some of the funds will improve storage facilities of schools and villages.

This plan will provide around 5,000 villagers and 2,000 schoolchildren with clean, safe water. The efforts will also decrease the distance travelled to fetch water and reduce the risk of women being abused as they seek water in isolated locations.

Donations to the Africa Disaster Fund at International Headquarters can be made online at www.salvationarmy.org.

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It’s on the Internet? It Must be True!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Warning: don’t believe everything you read online.

Whenever there’s a major natural disaster somewhere in the world, the internet rumor mill begins churning. Then all sorts of false messages circulate throughout the web, even ones that make The Salvation Army look good!

In the Expect Change blog’s article “Don’t believe every internet rumor you read!,” The Salvation Army Western Territory sets the record straight on the tales of the misinformation superhighway.

We’re proud of The Salvation Army’s strong record of good stewardship with your donations, so we don’t see any reason to stretch the truth.

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Worldwide Support Helps Salvation Army Emergency Response in Japan

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three Salvation Army teams in Japan have arrived and are serving at several disaster sites in Japan. The Japanese Government has recognized The Salvation Army’s work and has given our teams permission to enter the disaster area and use access roads that are closed off to the public.

The first of the three teams went to Sendai, where about 1,000 meals were served to evacuees. Our mobile emergency canteen prepared hot meals and drinks to give out at the Sendai Salvation Army church.

Another team went to a relief office in the Mito area and unloaded bottles of water, biscuits, blankets, diapers and tissue boxes for distribution to evacuees.

The third team headed to an area where people had been evacuated from the vicinity around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, but snow and shortage of petrol meant they had to divert to other areas to support evacuees.

Offers of support are pouring in from around the world. Two experienced emergency services workers have flown to Tokyo from The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters in London to assist their Japanese colleagues. The BBC reports that volunteers from a British group which failed to obtain clearance to work in the affected areas ‘donated their food and medical supplies to The Salvation Army working in the country’.

The Salvation Army’s Korea Territory has arranged for the K-Water Corporation to provide 100,000 bottles of water to be sent to Japan – 30,000 bottles by the end of the week, followed by the rest within a short time – and the Korea Disaster Relief Association will be sending 5,000 first-aid kits. Salvationists in Korea are holding a month of prayer for the people of Japan.

In a touching show of solidarity 1,500 young Salvationists in Haiti – who themselves have recent experience of a devastating earthquake – made prayer for Japan a focus of their rally in Fond-des-Nègres on March 11-12.

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Salvation Army on Stand By as Tropical Storm Hermine Makes Landfall

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tropical storm Hermine blew through south and central Texas yesterday leaving thousands of homes without power and dropping record rainfall on several cities. Hermine was downgraded to a tropical depression Tuesday night and continues to move north.

Five Salvation Army mobile feeding units (canteens) across Texas were placed on standby in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, McAllen, and Kerrville and are prepped to provide emergency assistance.

The Salvation Army of Texas reports their canteen in Corpus Christi has been called in to action to provide clean up kits for areas affected by excessive flooding and food for first responders and storm victims.

The Salvation Army’s canteens can be deployed within minutes and can usually serve first responders and storm victims steadily for a 24-hour period before restocking.

The mobile feeding units, staff, and volunteers will remain on call for at least three days, as Salvation Army disaster response personnel monitor Hermine’s path and the effects on each community it moves through. A satellite communications van and other emergency disaster response staff and volunteers are also on call.

To stay updated on The Salvation Army’s Hermine response, follow our Emergency Disaster Services team on Twitter @SalArmyEDS.

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The Salvation Army Prepares for Hurricane Earl’s Arrival

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hurricane Earl continues its path towards the US eastern coast with winds reaching 125mph as of this morning, making the storm a Category 3.

All Salvation Army units have been notified of the potential impacts from Hurricane Earl. Personnel in coastal North Carolina and the Eastern Shore of Maryland are working with county and state emergency management officials as well as reviewing local response plans and procedures in case their assistance is needed.

We encourage everyone who may be in Earl’s path to prepare an emergency supply kit, make an evacuation plan and stay on top of all storm warnings. For help developing a preparedness plan, coastal residents can visit www.readync.org and www.mema.state.md.us.

Anyone who wants to help those affected by Hurricane Earl can visit www.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Monetary donations will be used to meet immediate needs. We are currently not accepting donations of clothing and furniture for storm victims; however, please continue supporting your local Salvation Army thrift store and the much needed programs your in-kind gifts support.

Stay tune to The Salvation Army’s Hurricane Earl updates as they become available through our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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