Salvation Army Turning the Tide on Tybee Island After Hurricane Irma

SAVANNAH, GA (September 16, 2017) – Tybee Island is a barrier island 18 miles from Savannah, Georgia. It’s a place where the sand, sea, and salty breezes have a charm all their own. People from all over come to Tybee Island to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy the easy-going coastal life for a while.

Forty-seven years ago, Charles Kirk came to Tybee Island and liked it so much, he stayed. Since then, he has weathered many storms that have blown across the coastal Georgia region, including Hurricane Matthew in 2016. But Irma was different.

“I’m 70 years old and have lived in this house for 47 years, but I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Kirk. “I can’t sell my house now. And my office out back – I lost everything.”

For the folks on Lewis Street on Tybee Island, it was a quick rush of water from Hurricane Irma’s tidal surge and punishing rains that swept through their eclectic community that did the most damage. “We saw the water coming in and said ‘Wow – where is this coming from,’” said Kirk. “It came in and then left almost as soon. We were shoving water out as quick as we could – everything is ruined.”

He is not alone. Home after home all along Lewis Street, at the end of each driveway, are heaps and cluttered piles of water-logged couches, drywall, mattresses, washers and dryers, clothes, toys, and random household goods all types. Pictures can’t tell the whole story of what it is like after a flood event. It smells. It squishes. It’s discolored. It rots. It bleeds. What’s moving shouldn’t, and what needs to move can’t. It’s ALL dirty. And you can’t just walk to what you see.  

“The Salvation Army was here twice a day all this week,” said Tybee Island resident Shirley Sessions. “We are all so appreciative of the help they have given us.”

“We’ve been eating out of the Salvation Army truck since the hurricane hit,” said Mr. Kirk. “You don’t know what The Salvation Army does until you have somethings like this right here happen.”

Conditions are slowly improving on Lewis Street. “We’re turning the tide,” says Mr. Kirk. “And it seems every time something like this happens, The Salvation Army is there.” 

According to Captain Jason Smith, Planning Chief for the Georgia Salvation Army Incident Management Team, “As the services requested of us are met, we will continue to assess the areas of need and redeploy our resources to where they will be most effective.” Captain Smith added, “In the weeks, months, and years ahead we will continue to fulfill our mission to serve those who need our services wherever and whenever that might be.”

Indeed, The Salvation Army has been a symbol of help and hope to the people of Georgia for over 125 years. And as the people of Tybee Island dig out from under the impact of two hurricanes in one year, Georgia Incident Management Commander Major Douglas McClure assures them, “Wherever you are, The Salvation Army will always be there to help you through the disasters of life; physical, emotional, and spiritual – 365 days of the year.”

For those who want to help people directly affected by recent hurricanes, a financial contribution is the best way to help. A cash donation allows charitable relief agencies to use monetary contributions to purchase exactly what disaster survivors need.   In addition, money used to purchase needed items locally can support local and state economies, helping local businesses and workers, which have suffered losses in the wake of the disaster event.

You can donate in the following ways:

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Text to give: text STORM to 51555

For the latest emergency disaster services news, please visit www.disaster.salvationarmymusa.org and follow the disaster services team on Twitter @SalArmyEDS.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

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