Salvation Army EDS units provide relief after storms ravage South
By: Dan Childs
Four divisions of the USA Southern Territory deployed disaster relief units as tornadoes and severe storms slammed the region April 12-13. At least 33 people were killed, and hundreds of homes and businesses were severely damaged in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
More than 60 tornadoes were reported, with most occurring in relatively sparsely populated areas. The Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky-Tennessee and North-South Carolina divisions were involved in the relief effort.
In Monroe, Louisiana, where some 200 homes were significantly damaged, Captain Jerry Casey, corps officer, served sandwiches, drinks and snacks from the mobile feeding unit to residents and first responders in affected neighborhoods. “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds new challenges to providing emergency disaster relief. We’re being careful to wear a mask and gloves, and we’re taking social distancing precautions while serving the public,” said Captain Casey.
Eleven deaths were reported in Mississippi with Carroll, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lawrence, Panola and Walthall counties sustaining tornado damage. The Laurel Corps dispatched one feeding unit to serve in Jones County, and two units from the Hattiesburg Corps served 1,000 meals Monday in Jefferson Davis County. The McComb Service Center provided 50 meals in Walthall County. Several other commands in the state were assessing damage in their communities. Some 74,000 power outages were reported statewide.
Alabama, meanwhile, had over 120,000 power outages. Much of the state’s damage was occurred in Etowah County, where the Gadsden Corps deployed a mobile feeding unit to serve first responders, highway crews and residents. Also, the Walker County Service Extension Center had a mobile feeding unit serving impacted areas in Blount and Walker counties.
In northwest Georgia, the Dalton Corps sent a rapid response canteen to serve snacks and drinks in Murray County. Particular attention is focused on a mobile home park in Chatsworth where five people were killed and others injured. The division is also working with local emergency management and the American Red Cross to assess damage in Chattooga County, where consideration was being given to open a community shelter.
Disaster personnel in the KT Division have been engaged since early March, when a tornado devastated Nashville just before the COVID-19 crisis began. Their attention turned to the Chattanooga area after an EF-3 tornado ravaged several counties in southeastern Tennessee. The Chattanooga Area Command distributed 130 blankets and provided emotional and spiritual care to 102 individuals late Sunday and early Monday. The Salvation Army of Bradley County served 400 meals, 300 snacks and 430 drinks Monday, and in Hamilton County the Army provided 76 meals and 100 beverages.
In the Carolinas Division, the Aiken, South Carolina, Corps sent disaster personnel into the nearby Windsor community to provide food and drinks to residents affected by the storm. Elsewhere in the state, the Greenville Area Command coordinated with civic officials in Oconee County, deploying the canteen in the Seneca community, where a twister damaged or destroyed multiple structures. In Orangeburg County, Salvation Army personnel provided hydration and cleanup support for two families.