Tampa, Florida (September 16, 2017) In what is the largest response in the history of the Florida Division, The Salvation Army continues to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. All Salvation Army units in Florida are actively involved in the statewide relief effort that includes the support of trained disaster workers and volunteers from around the United States and Canada.
The Salvation Army of Florida has 62 canteens (mobile feeding units) and 4 field kitchens that are serving in locations throughout the state of Florida. Other support vehicles including sleeping units, refrigerated vehicles, and generators have been dispatched to some of the hardest hit areas in southwest Florida.
The first mass hot meals since Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys on Sunday are being served from The Salvation Army’s field kitchen in Marathon today. Most people in the keys, both survivors and first responders, have been eating shelf-stable meals and MREs for 5 days, making a hot cooked meal a welcome sight. The tractor trailer field kitchen has the capacity to provide more than 10,000 meals a day, and will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner to those in need.
Additional supplies are being flown in to the Florida Keys by AERObridge. With this partnership, The Salvation Army has been able to bring two tractor trailers-worth of supplies, namely shelf stable meals and water to families in need in the Florida Keys.
In response to communitiy needs, on Friday eight mobile canteens provided more than 5,000 meals and 5,000 bottles of cold water to neighborhoods battling the heat without power. With support from a Salvation Army Canadian team, three additional canteens join the fleet today to provide food and spiritual care throughout the Miami area including the town of Homestead that was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew twenty five years ago.
In addition to seven canteens serving Lee, Hendry and Glades counties, the Ft. Myers Salvation Army is partnering with the Southern Bapatist Convention Disaster Relief to serve meals to families at Lehigh Senior High. “The Salvation Army is great.” said Principal Jackie Corey. “It has been an awesome opportunity for the community to come together and do soemthing together.”
Twelve mobile feeding kitchens from Jacksonville Area Command and North and South Carolina have fanned out through a six-county area in northeast Florida, providing food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual care to people impacted by flooding from storm surge from Hurricane Irma and flooding from local rivers and tributaries. In Clay County, the rivers and tributaries flooded past the flood gauges. In some places residents were expecting three feet of water and planned accordingly raising furniture on blocks and storing cars on higher ground; they received eight to ten feet of water. Emotional and spiritual care workers are vital to this operation – power is still out after five days and survivors are stressed and need a listening ear and guidance to available resources. Because the power is still out, feeding is vital to the impacted communities. Several people who have come to The Salvation Army for help have not eaten for a couple of days. Water is a precious commodity in many of the rural areas where residents use well water. Without electricity, wells cannot pump the water. In the northeast Florida area, The Salvation Army is providing more than 2,000 meals per day.
Responding to hardest hit areas The Salvation Army has deployed nine canteens to the area with more supplies arriving daily. Partnering with the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief the Army is able to get more meals to the most in need. On Friday six-year-old Carmen found herself translating for her anxious mother at a Salvation Army canteen while her mom held her five-month old sister nearby. “Of course you can have something to eat,” said Nancy, The Salvation Army volunteer, as she helped Carmen’s mother gather hot meals, shelf stable meals, fruit, and drinks for her family. Nancy then graciously helped the family pile the food on the baby’s stroller because that was
their only means of transportation.
On Friday, additional food and water supplies arrived. Cooking from two canteens and a catering truck. Meals are being served in Avon Park, Sebring, and Lake Placid. Power is still out in a large portion of Highlands County.
The Salvation Army continues to provide services in:
Port Charlotte & Desoto County, Lake & Sumter County, Pasco County, Sebring, Vero Beach, Ocala, Orlando, Gainesville, Citrus County, Polk County, Pinellas County and Suwannee County.
As of Saturday morning, September, 16, The Salvation Army Florida Division has prepared and distributed 362,860 meals, drinks, and snacks, and have made 3,800 emotional and spiritual comfort contacts with the support of 6,900 volunteer hours.
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.