Jacksonville, FL (September 16, 2017)–Max Keltner lost everything to Hurricane Irma. When the storm swept through Middleburg, Florida, rising waters forced him to evacuate without time to gather more than the clothes on his back. “It looked like the Mississippi River coming through there instead of the creek. Total wreck of the house, swamped my refrigerator, swamped my generator, six foot of water inside the house.” Sitting in the Middleburg library, eating a lunch he’d received from a Salvation Army canteen, he continued, “I saw that North Carolina license plate and it was just very nice that they would drive this far to help total strangers.”
When the storm passed, Max returned to his home by boat to see what could be salvaged. What did he want to save? Not his refrigerator, not his generator, not his television. Choking back tears Max said all he wanted was, “the picture of my wife”, who had passed away. Overcome by his emotions, Mr. Keltner was joined by Emotional and Spiritual Care worker Major Syung Young Lee of the Greater Winston-Salem Area Command. Major Lee sat with Mr. Keltner and his neighbor Cheryl, with whom he’d taken shelter. They spoke with each other, they prayed together. As Major Lee rose to leave, Max whispered a simple, “Thank you.”
When all was lost, what Max Keltner wanted to save was a memory, a memory of his late wife, a memory of love and commitment, a memory of life before the storm.
The Salvation Army is here at work in Florida, helping people like Max who have lost so much, and we will remain for as long as we are needed.
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.