Salvation Army Responding to Double Disaster in Guatemala

Thursday, June 10, 2010

SALVATION Army emergency response teams in Guatemala are providing assistance after the country was hit by two major disasters within 10 days.

A state of emergency was declared after the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano – about 15 miles south of the capital, Guatemala City. A television journalist was killed in the eruption and the international airport had to be closed. Some 1,600 people were evacuated from the slopes of the volcano and two to three inches of ash built up on streets in some southern parts of the capital.

Dots mark the path of Tropical Storm Agatha

While the country was struggling to deal with the aftermath of the eruption, Tropical Storm Agatha moved across central America, bringing devastation on a huge scale. Of the 150 people known to have been killed in the region, more than 120 were from Guatemala. These numbers may rise.

Some communities were cut off by floods and mudslides, and the ash clean-up operation was badly affected. At one point a Salvation Army team was stranded after a landslide blocked the roads to a community where it was providing assistance.

Almost 112,000 people were evacuated from their homes across Guatemala and around 30,000 had to seek temporary accommodation in emergency shelters.

The local authorities set up a campaign to provide support and The Salvation Army played its part, delivering coffee and warm meals. Salvation Army officers (church ministers) coordinated the response and other Salvationists worked as volunteers.

The first assistance provided by The Salvation Army was at San Vicente, in response to the volcanic eruption. The number of people seeking help increased because of the storm and support is being given at shelters in Tierra Nueva.

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National Hurricane Preparedness Week

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 23 – May 29 has been designated National Hurricane Preparedness Week in anticipation of the 2010 hurricane season that begins June 1. For now, forecasters predict a more active storm season compared to last year’s generally mild one, but being informed and prepared can help diminish the damaging effects of hurricanes.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has set up a helpful page online about hurricane hazards, preparedness information, and practical ways to plan ahead. Click here or visit http://www.nhc.noaa.gov to learn more. Plus, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a fun page for kids with lots of hurricane background information so that they can be knowledgeable and prepared as well.

And you have probably seen in the news or even been served by The Salvation Army as we provide needed relief following hurricanes and other disasters. In fact, The Salvation Army’s first major disaster response effort in the United States followed the devastating hurricane that destroyed Galveston, TX in 1900, so we have a long history of disaster relief! Our goal is to meet human need by providing material, physical, emotional, and spiritual comfort to survivors and first responders, which could come in the form of a hot meal, a temporary shelter, financial assistance, a shoulder to lean on, and many other things.

Hopefully the referenced links will be helpful as you prepare for hurricane season. We’ll keep you updated on important information and our efforts this season. Be sure to visit our website at www.salvationarmyusa.org, as well as our national Facebook and Twitter pages!

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