Thursday, December 1, 2011

Response to PA Flooding

The Salvation Army, Emergency Disaster Services crews have been busy providing assistance to victims of the historic Pennsylvania flooding since early September. More than 19 Salvation Army mobile response units responded across Central and Northeastern Pennsylvania at the peak of operations feeding at more than 31 locations across the state.

Working closely with local and county government officials and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), the Salvation Army served more than 44,600 meals, 8,328 clean-up kits, 1, 058 hygiene kits, more than 20,000 gallons/cases of water and over $180,000 in direct financial assistance made possible by the more than 12,000 hours of volunteer service given.

Services in the recovery efforts of the flooding are still ongoing.  Many counties and local Salvation Army centers are continuing to meet the needs of the local families affected by the floods.  As the holiday season approaches, needs continue to be high for some of the hardest hit regions across the state and the Army will be there to continue to assess and address those needs.

Individuals interested in providing aid are encouraged to make monetary donations via our secure, on-line donations page, or text STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation using your mobile phone.* Monetary donations better allow The Salvation Army to meet the special needs of those affected by the flooding, so at this time, The Salvation Army is not accepting clothing, food, or commodity donations for disaster victims (these items are still needed at Satlvation Army family thrift stores and will continue to be accepted there). Donations may also be made by sending a check to The Salvation Army Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Divisional Headquarters at 701 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123. Donations should be marked "Disaster Relief".
* A onetime donation of $10 will be billed to your mobile phone bill. Messaging & data rates may apply. Donations are collected for The Salvation Army by Reply STOP to 80888 to stop. Reply HELP to 80888 for help. For terms, see

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quake Rocks Northeast US

If you live anywhere from Charlotte to Boston, you may have felt the affects of a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the Norhteastern US early this afternoon.  The quake that struck just outside of Washington, DC rumbled through, Philly and New Yourk City all the way up into the New England states.

Here in Philadelphia the city's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) immediately went into gear ramping up a watch command at the EOC and coordinating the inter-agency response.  Many businesses in downtown evacuated after the quake so a large police response was needed to control crowds and traffic flow. 

As all this was going on our EDS team was out on a fire in the Chestnut Hill section of the city where a late morning garage fire was still being handled by firefighters.  As lunch was being served to the emergency crews, the shaking was felt and we immediately began to follow up on what was going on.  At that point we began coordinating with our partner agencies across the division to see if any response was needed.

Luckily this was a relatively minor incident for us here in Eastern PA and DE, but incidents like this serve as a great reminder that disasters of any type can hit is at any time.  We encourage people to review your personal and family readiness plans and be ready because you truly never know!

SA in UK Assists with Riots

London, England (August 10, 2011) – The Salvation Army is assisting the emergency services, residents and local communities in the aftermath of unrest in London and other parts of the country. Salvation Army emergency mobile response vehicles have been deployed and, on the advice of the emergency services, been situated in secure areas.

In north London, Haringey Council asked The Salvation Army to run the reception area of a Community Assistance Center for residents and businesses in Tottenham and Wood Green. From 9am to 8pm, every day for at least the next 11 days, The Salvation Army is also providing pastoral support and refreshments to those giving professional advice and services at the Tottenham Green Leisure Centre.

Major Muriel McClenahan, The Salvation Army’s director of emergency services in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland, worked the first shift at the center. She says, “We are working closely with Haringey Council to support local residents and businesses as they rebuild their lives and the community after the turmoil of recent days. Salvation Army staff and volunteers are offering practical and emotional support to all who require assistance, including people who have been traumatized, made homeless or suffered other loss as a result of the unrest.

“There are dozens of people bringing donations and leaving in tears at the goodness that is felt. There are many young people here, helping to sort out the donations.”

The Community Assistance Center will help local people with a wide range of issues – from emergency housing for residents whose homes were damaged by the disturbances to advice from a team of social workers. The center will also act as a focal point for the many offers of donations which have been made by both businesses and individuals in the community.

Major McClenahan adds, “Where it has been safe to do so, and with the guidance of the London Fire Brigade, Salvation Army emergency relief teams have been providing food, drinks and support to emergency services personnel as they respond to fires and incidents. We are continuing to monitor the situation and are ready to respond as required by the authorities and emergency services.”

Across the country Salvation Army personnel are meeting with community leaders and local authorities to offer support to rebuild shattered communities. A Salvation Army Emergency Response Unit was on duty in Salford, Manchester, for three and a half hours during Tuesday night (9 August) serving refreshments to fire fighters and providing pastoral care and support. Salvation Army teams are also helping with the clean up in parts of the Wavertree and Toxteth areas of Liverpool.

By Ann C. Stewart

Monday, May 9, 2011

Salvation Army Uses Facebook to Take Prayer Requests for Disaster Survivors

Tuscaloosa, AL - May 07, 2011 – A growing list of prayer requests in blue marker continues to fill the white dry-erase board in front of The Salvation Army’s temporary disaster unit.

This morning Capt. Joe May, assigned Emotional and Spiritual Care Officer for Tuscaloosa’s disaster response, directed the requests to go viral by posting on Facebook.

Capt. May says that “using The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division’s Facebook is an important medium to both get existing prayer requests out and take on additional requests.” Trained Emotional and Spiritual Care Officers are on the ground at Red Cross shelters and at mobile disaster canteens to offer support and care as individuals begin to process the gravity of this disaster.

People can go to Facebook and “Like” The Salvation Army’s Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division Facebook page to post prayer requests. The current list includes:

•A mother of 4 who has 3 missing children, 1 confirmed as deceased as well as losing a brother in the storm,
•Sgt. Ruthie Forgie, corps officer in Cleveland TN, a community also hard-hit by a tornado
•Those afraid to seek help,
•The Latino Community,
•Everyone affected in Tuscaloosa and beyond,
•A warehouse for The Salvation Army’s disaster response in Tuscaloosa to begin case management and material storage
•TuscaloosaCorps Officers Majors David and Cherry Craddock
•Salvation Army staff and volunteers helping with the disaster and supporting those in the field

The Tuscaloosa Corps facility and local emergency canteen were heavily damaged in the April 27th tornado, rendering the facility and local mobile canteen inoperable. Mobile Incident Command operations at the Tuscaloosa Airport location are working to manage efforts and set up collection and distribution points around the region. Currently, no donations are being accepted at this location as there is a critical lack of storage and distribution resources.

The best way to help tornado survivors and rescue workers is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific and changing needs of disaster survivors. The Salvation Army asks those who want to help to visit, text “GIVE” to 80888 for a $10 donation given from your cell phone or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) and designate their gift "April 2011 Tornado Outbreak." 

By:  Shane Autrey

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why send money when I have all this stuff I could send?

Anytime a disaster strikes there are two inevitable things that will happen.  One is that people’s lives will be affected in some way, shape or form.  The other is that people will want to donate “stuff”.
After every major disaster I have been part of, we have been inundated with donated goods.  One thing is for sure…people have big hearts and good intent.  On the surface cleaning out a closet to donate your no longer needed pair pants or t-shirts that you wore that one time only, seems like good idea.  The reality is this can be a huge burden on the disaster response.
You may have noticed during big national level or even larger local disasters that disaster relief agencies (including The Salvation Army) will ask only for monetary gifts and not in-kind donations.  There are good reasons for this which you may or may not be aware of.
First, a cash gift is much easier to handle.  When a cash gift is donated it is immediately tracked from start to finish and can be applied to specific needs as they come to light.  With in-kind goods a lot of infrastructure is required to make those gifts manageable and able to be delivered to those in need.  Warehouses must be secured, trucks lined up to transfer the goods, mechanisms in place to get the goods to the disaster survivors…and the list goes on.  Much of this requires a lot of time and energy on the part of the agencies and their volunteers and ultimately will take longer to get into the hands of those that need it most.
One of the other benefits of a cash gift is that it can be used to purchase exactly what is needed.  At times we will request specific items for donation, but most of the time it is more efficient to ask for monetary donations and purchase exactly what is needed to ensure we get the proper items.  A good example is water.  We could easily ask the public for water and could get any form of water under the sun, 20 oz bottles, 16 oz bottles, 1 gallon jugs, 1 liter jugs… When we ask for monetary gifts we can purchase exactly what is needed and only as much as is needed, allowing us to use the money saved for other needs of the disaster survivors.
One of the biggest benefits of cash gifts is one that we don’t always see on the surface, and that’s the economic impact.  Whenever we purchase goods during disaster we always try to do so within (or as close to as possible to), the disaster affected region.  This helps to boost the local economy which is always hard hit following the impact on the local community.  At the same time monetary gifts allow us to purchase and utilize debit/gift cards for disaster survivors to spend within the community while also buying those specific items that they as a family need, not limited by only the items we have on hand.
Disasters are always unique, and thus so are the needs of those affected.  It is hard to just say “send this or that, because they always needed it”.  The truth is, we never know what the needs of individual communities may be, but cash gifts always allow us to best meet those needs…whatever they may be.

You can help by making a donation to disaster relief by going to  Our donors are the ones that make our service to other possible, so help us to help those in need.

Robert Myers,
EDS Director

Tornado Response Update - Day 5

Our first report we entered was within 36 hours of the tornadoes touching down across the southern states.  Since the The Salvation Army has been providing a massive amount of support to those affected by the storms.  Below is a a snapshot of the info from across those affected states.

Atlanta, GA (USA South Headquarters) – Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) personnel continue to meet material, emotional, and spiritual needs across the southern United States.  Currently, EDS crews are at work in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. 

After five days of intense service, several locations are scaling back response efforts while some locations hit particularly hard by the storms are still in need of daily feeding and spiritual care.

Alabama/Mississippi – Currently, 40 Salvation Army ESD feeding units and one shower trailer are actively serving in Mississippi and Alabama.  Over the last five days, tens of thousands of meals and drinks have been distributed.  On Friday and Saturday alone, EDS teams served 30,820 meals and 51,072 drinks.  1,314 people received emotional and spiritual care so crucial to Salvation Army disaster response. 

Arkansas – EDS personnel continue to monitor rising water levels which have reached major flood stage in 9 counties.  At present, one mobile feeding unit is serving Randolph County.  Approximately 5,000 meals have been served since Monday. 

Georgia – While operations are beginning to wind down, several units are still serving the field.  At the request of FEMA, a mobile feeding unit will remain in Spalding County, as will a social service representative in Harold County.  Additionally, operations will continue in Catoosa and Walker counties through the end of the week.  Teams have served 8,596 meals and 4,195 drinks in Spalding, 720 meals and 1,490 drinks in Rome, and 120 meals and 350 drinks in Cartersville.

Kentucky/Tennessee/Virginia – EDS operations will diminish in Henderson, Murfreesboro and Clarksville, TN as local resources are once again available for storm survivors.  In Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN as well as North Georgia, EDS crews are increasing their meal, beverage, and emotional/spiritual care services to keep pace with the needs of communities hit hard by the storms.  A strong presence remains in Dyersburg, TN, Greenville, TN, Washington County, VA, and Henderson, KY.  As of Sunday morning, 800 volunteers had logged 7,000 hours while helping staff serve approximately 14,500 meals throughout the division.

For more information regarding ongoing relief efforts, please visit the Newsroom at

The Salvation Army is grateful to the public for their continued support.

The best way to help tornado survivors and rescue workers is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.  The Salvation Army asks those who want to help to visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) and designate their gift "April 2011 Tornado Outbreak."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Salvation Army Responds to Deadly Tornadoes Across Southern USA

Yesterday evening the southern United States were hammered by devastating storms that moved through the region.  The storms caused more than 130 tornadoes stretching from Mississippi all the way across to Georgia, and as far north as Virginia and Maryland.
One of the hardest hit areas was Alabama as tornadoes ripped through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, before moving on to Georgia and Tennessee.  The Salvation Army facility in Tuscaloosa was destroyed along with the canteen there. More than 270 people have lost their lives due to these storms and that number is expected to rise over the coming days, though miraculously no one from the Army was seriously injured or killed.
Canteens were on the ground last night and as of this morning a large scale response is being mobilized to assist those affected.  Meals are already being served in various communities as volunteers and staff work to try and meet the basic needs of those that have lost everything. 
The following is an excerpt from the most recent article posted on the National EDS Website: .  Follow that site in order to see the most up to date info on the Army’s ongoing response to the tornadoes and other disasters.

Arkansas – An EDS mobile feeding unit has been sent to the Pocahontas area of Randolph County.  The main levee protecting that town from the Black River has broken as of 10:00am today.  Highway 67 between Pocahontas and Walnut Ridge is under water. 
Alabama – Alabama, which was especially hard hit, has seen the death count rise to approximately 180 people.  Salvation Army EDS personnel and mobile feeding units are serving multiple locations throughout the state.  Three mobile feeding crews are serving in Tuscaloosa, two in Guntersville, one in Phil Campbell, one in Marion County, one in Molten, and six in Birmingham.  The Salvation Army Corps and Shelter in Tuscaloosa was destroyed as tornadoes ripped through the area.  
Mississippi – Mobile feeding units are currently serving residents of Kemper County, Webster County, and Oxford.  Additionally information will be shared as reports are made available.
Tennessee – EDS personnel are actively serving residents of Cleveland, Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Dyersburg, Greenville, and Memphis.  Additional units are on standby throughout the state ready to respond as needed. 
Cleveland, TN:  EDS staff and more than 100 volunteers have provided approximately 800 meals to first responders and victims through mobile feeding operations.  Additionally, beverages and snacks are being provided to emergency shelter residents at St. Theresa's Catholic Church. 
Chattanooga, TN:  The Salvation Army served throughout the night in Catoosa County, GA where there were a confirmed 30 severe injuries and 7 fatalities.  Mobile kitchen units are currently serving in Walker, Dade, Catoosa, and Hamilton Counties.  The Salvation Army is partnering with the Chattanooga Red Cross and The Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief to meet shelter and food needs of affected residents.
Murfreesboro, TN:  The Salvation Army has deployed its canteen and is currently serving storm damaged areas with emergency food, drink, and clean-up kits.  Reports have been given to The Salvation Army which indicate that more than 150 homes have been affected and that residents face at least 72 hours without electricity. 
Dyersburg, TN:  The community of Southtown in Dyer County has been evacuated to Dyersburg for fear of levee failure.  The Salvation Army will be feeding temporary shelter residents from their soup kitchen in Dyersburg.  Mobile feeding units will serve volunteers who are sand bagging areas in an effort to save homes.
Clarksville, TN:  The Salvation Army in Clarksville had to evacuate their building due to flooding.  Despite this setback, EDS personnel are assessing local flood damage and are prepared to serve as needed.
Greenville, TN:  Stationary and roving feeding units are in place and serving flooded areas. 
Memphis, TN:  The Salvation Army of Memphis has served breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Emergency Operations Center and are providing the above meals to those who are filling sandbags at the Pyramid.  EDS personnel are also on standby to provide mass feeding to potential flood victims. 
Kentucky – Following severe storms yesterday and today, the state of Kentucky faces extensive flood risks.
Paducah, KY:  The Salvation Army of Paducah is providing meals, beverages, and support for the local temporary emergency shelter serving flood evacuees.  Preparations are also being made to support sandbagging efforts. 
Henderson, KY:  The Salvation Army of Henderson is currently assessing potential flood damage.  The town of Reed has been evacuated.  They continue to respond to the tornado that hit Poole, KY.  EDS personnel have been requested to provide assistance in Union County to deliver meals to those sandbagging.  Teams are on standby to provide meals to the local shelter.
Louisville, KY:  The Louisville Salvation Army is on standby to serve should there be any flooding and continues to monitor the rising waters.
Georgia – The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services teams in Georgia are on standby and ready to serve victims, first responders, and volunteers from mobile feeding units in Georgia and Alabama.  In addition to feeding, The Salvation Army is prepared to provide clean-up kits containing brooms, mops, buckets and cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, and emotional/spiritual care.  Because of recorded deaths and destruction in Catoosa, Floyd and Walker Counties, Governor Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for Georgia.  
The Salvation Army response to disasters is dependent upon the generous support of our donors.  To help support the tornado response you can text “GIVE” to 80888 to give a $10 donation.  You can also give online or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY designating your gift to “April 2011 Tornado Outbreak”.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SA Serves Survivors in Iowa Following Devestating Tornado

(Sioux City, IA, April 11, 2011) The Salvation Army in Siouxland has mobilized two teams of officers, employees and volunteers to assist the devastated cites of Mapleton and Early, Iowa. 

Early on Sunday morning, staff from the Salvation Army Omaha headquarters arrived in Mapleton, Iowa with a mobile feeding canteen. They were joined by volunteers from the Siouxland Salvation Army. On Monday, the Salvation Army served breakfast to residents and relief workers in Mapleton from the mobile canteen site.

In Early, Iowa volunteers arrived on Sunday afternoon and have set up a meal site at the Early City Hall. As of late Sunday afternoon more than 400 sandwiches and many other food items had been distributed. Salvation Army personnel including Larry Schafer, has been taking sandwiches and beverages out to residents in the community as the survey the damage and work on their property.

Captain Linda Vandiver, Siouxland Salvation Army Corps Officer (minister) toured both Early and Mapleton yesterday afternoon and met with local officials. She told official and residents in both communities that “We will be here for you for the long haul. This is just the beginning of recovery and rebuilding. We are here for you and your people, and we want to help you as your communities rebuild from this.”

Salvation Army Soldier Lacey Wilde, reported that she was observing some of the damage in Early, Iowa when a local resident noticed her Salvation Army uniform. She asked if Miss Wilde would pray for her and the town. Miss Wilde commented “it is great that we can be here for the practical things, like food and water, but we are also here to bring hope, and I was glad that I could do that for this lady.”

At the present time, the Salvation Army is not accepting donations of clothes or other items for the victims. The best way to help is a monetary donation. Donations should be marked “tornado relief” and can be sent to PO Box 783, Sioux City, IA  51102.

Salvation Army in Japan Continues to Offer Assistance to People in Need (Update 8 April)

COMMISSIONER Makoto Yoshida, Commander of The Salvation Army's Japan Territory, reports that the country's recovery from a devastating earthquake and tsunami is 'going well', although he says that ongoing problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station continue to cause 'some uneasiness among the people'. He says that everyday goods, including fuel, are becoming easier to obtain and that around 70 percent of roads in the disaster zone have now been reopened.

The commissioner adds that the search for missing people is proving to be difficult. Officials report that 15,000 people are still missing, in addition to the 12,000 people known to have been killed in the disaster. Around 166,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Inspite of all this, The Salvation Army continues to provide assistance where there is a need.  More than 1,100 meals and other necessities were distributed in Sendai on 23 March. Treats were given to the 83 children who went to the distribution. Power and water have now been restored in Sendai so The Salvation Army is likely to end its distribution there, although it may continue to provide assistance to needy areas north of the city.

The story is similar in Yabuki-cho, where Major Kenji Fujii and Captain Kazuyuki Ishikawa met the mayor, who reported that many houses that look fine from the outside actually suffered significant damage and will have to be demolished. Recently installed water pipelines for agricultural usage were destroyed, leading to the loss of the next rice harvest – a significant part of the area's economy.  The Salvation Army emergency team left goods in storage, to be used as necessary. The community was also given a clear message that The Salvation Army would provide support in the future whenever requested.

At Iwaki-city, which is just outside the 30-kilometer exclusion zone from Fukushima, a team of seven Salvation Army workers distributed 500 hot meals and 6,000 bottles of water in response to a request from the director of the emergency response volunteer desk.

Kesen-numa – about 120 kilometers north of Sendai – was badly damaged by the tsunami. The corps officer (Salvation Army church minister) from Sendai contacted a minister in Kesen-numa and discovered that the community needs support. It has been arranged for two Salvation Army emergency teams to carry out daily distributions of food and other necessities from 12 to 15 April.

Thirty kilometers north-east of Kesen-numa is the coastal community of Rikuzen-Takada, which was badly damaged by the tsunami. A Salvation Army team distributed hot meals and water on 5 April. While there, team members investigated how the Army can offer further assistance.

If you ould like to donated to the ongoing Japanese relief efforts go to to make a donation or give a $10 donation by texting "Japan" to 80888.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Salvation Army in Japan Considers Long-term Response to Earthquake

Salvation Army emergency workers in Japan report that the government disaster response is proceeding well and that most areas in need of assistance have now been reached. Salvation Army teams continue to provide vital supplies such as food and water in Sendai and also in Yabuki-cho, both of which are near Fukushima but outside the exclusion zone set up around the nuclear power plant. Yabuki-cho appears to be one of the few areas not yet reached by government help.

Some areas hit particularly badly by the disaster are still not accessible but Salvation Army workers understand that other nongovernmental organizations are also not being allowed into these parts. The exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant remains in place and local reports suggest the situation is improving.

As previously reported, bottled water has been provided to The Salvation Army's Japan Territory from Korea. The Salvation Army World Services Organization (SAWSO) in the USA is organizing a delivery of blankets and has arranged for samples of food packages to be sent to territorial leaders who will then have the option to order any if needed.

There has been a considerable financial response to The Salvation Army's Japan Disaster Appeal from around the world. The Japan Territory believes funds already available in-country will cover the costs of the current response and that money raised from around the world will enable a medium to long-term response. The territory is considering building temporary accommodation and providing household goods and equipment but these plans are still at the early stages.

Commissioner Makoto Yoshida, The Salvation Army's Territorial Commander in Japan, is grateful for the practical and spiritual support that has been offered from across the world.  He reports that commuters in Tokyo who were given food, drink and shelter at territorial headquarters on the night of the earthquake have sent letters of thanks, some including a donation for the relief work.

To help support the ongoing Japan relief efforts you can donate online at, or by texting "JAPAN" to 80888 to make a $10 donation. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Letter from Japan

Captain Christopher Marques is a young Salvation Army Officer (minister) who is from Decatur, Illinois, but is currently stationed at The Salvation Army’s Headquarters for Japan. His normal work is with the young people in Japan. Following are some excerpts from a message we received from him early on Wednesday Morning, March 16.
…Thank you for your prayers. They are perhaps the greatest gift we can use right about now. As you know, the country is still being shaken by aftershocks; even today we just felt a larger one after lunch. But so far they have not been near the level we saw on Friday I am starting to get used to the ground shaking a little bit on and off, but still am surprised by some of the frequent medium-sized incidents.
There is still a problem with the reactors that are critical and leaking in the Fukushima area (in-between Tokyo and the tsunami-hit area of Sendai). The immediate area surrounding the plant has, of course, been evacuated from a 30 kilometer radius.
For now, those near the affected area who have not been evacuated or staying in temporary shelters have been advised to stay indoors. In the rest of the country we aren't moving much since gas/petrol is hard to find…the fuel lines are still stretching for blocks for anyone trying to get their car filled up.
The power supply is being cut in various areas to save the whole electrical system from crashing. With subways and trains running reduced schedules, and cars being used less- many are either using bicycles, walking or staying home.
The stores are struggling to keep shelves full and some things are simply impossible to find—even for us trying to get food for the relief victims. Today was not quite as crowded or busy in the grocery/convenience stores.
Most of us here have thankfully been able to go to work each day and help manage the relief effort from our Tokyo office.
My boss has left to help support the first relief teams that are further north. He has training and experience with disaster situations, so he was a natural choice along with the rest of the group. However, he is very close to the reactor area helping with victims and I pray for his safe return.
Today, during our daily morning devotions, we sang Count Your Blessings, and that song really came alive as we thanked God for our lives, His protection, our basic needs being met at this time and just having shelter, clothing and access to some kind of food each day.
We appreciate your continued prayer support for the people here during this difficult time. May God bless you all back home and keep you hearts firmly connected to Him.
God Bless You,
The Salvation Army has had a presence in Japan since 1895 and is also mobilizing a significant international response to manage both immediate and long-term needs.
·        Two experienced International Emergency Services workers have flown to Tokyo from International Headquarters in London to assist their Japanese colleagues.
·        The Salvation Army's Korea Territory has arranged for the K-Water Corporation to provide 100,000 bottles of water to be sent to Japan – 30,000 bottles by the end of the week, followed by the rest within a short time; the Korea Disaster Relief Association will also be sending 5,000 first-aid kits.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Disaster Relief Underway in Japan

I’m sure that everyone has been following the news over the past few days monitoring the events a half a world away on the island nation of Japan.  What you may not know is that The Salvation Army is already on the ground providing relief assistance to those who have been affected by these horrific events.
The Salvation Army has actually been in Japan for more than a century opening their work there back in 1895.  Today we operate more than 80 facilities across the country including 57 church community centers (corps), 12 social services outpost, 2 hospitals and 20 children’s centers with headquarters located in Tokyo.
It was at the Tokyo Territorial Headquarters (THQ) that the Army’s response to the earthquake and following tsunami was first mobilized.  Once the reports came in about the devastation a team was dispatched to the hardest hit city of Sendai.  A trip that is normally a 6 hour trek took the responding team more than 20 hours to make due to the many impassable roads and destroyed infrastructure along the way.  Fuel stations having shortages and long lines of customers only magnified the already difficult situation.  Since that first day a second team has been deployed and both teams are working to meet the immediate life sustaining needs of disaster survivors across that region.
As that team was making the long journey, the THQ staff also opened its doors for the many commuters who were stranded in downtown Tokyo do to the shutdown of the public transportation infrastructure.  Japan has one of the most extensive subway and train systems in the world with Tokyo being its hub.  More than 10 million riders a day take advantage of this system, which was shut down immediately following the quake thus stranding thousands of people throughout the city.
Since the day of the earthquake, one of the added complications has been a threat of a catastrophic failure at a nuclear power facility.  This incident has prompted the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents from nearby communities as a precautionary measure.  The Salvation Army THQ in Tokyo deployed a third team to this area to help assist those evacuees.
As part of its International Emergency Services function, the International Headquarters of The Salvation Army deployed a team to Japan to help assist with the ongoing relief efforts.  Once that team arrives a comprehensive assessment will be conducted in accordance with the local leadership to determine the level of assistance that is both needed and able to be sustained.

Times like these require a tremendous amount of support in able to sustain the level of operation needed in order respond to an incident of this magnitude.  You can help by donating to The Salvation Army relief operation in numerous ways.  One way is through our website and click on the “Give” link for Japan Earthquake relief.  The other way to give is via a $10 text donation by texting the word “JAPAN” to 80888.  It is through the generous support of donors throughout the world that allow us to help during difficult times like these.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Update from New Zealand

1 March 2011
THE Salvation Army in New Zealand reports an escalation in welfare needs as a result of ongoing concerns for people affected by the devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit the region around Christchurch a week ago.

Relief agencies have expressed their appreciation for the manner in which Salvation Army officers (ministers) have approached people to defuse potentially difficult situations where they may be feeling upset or angry as a result of current circumstances.

Assisting in welfare centres at three sites and a drop-in centre, The Salvation Army supplied some 4,500 meals to approximately 1,800 people in a single day. In addition, Salvationists provided food for the Tongan community and a group at Opawa Baptist Church and are now working with families to encourage them either to return home or to find other semi-permanent housing.

Overnight, a fresh influx of reinforcements from around the country means that there are now 90 people in The Salvation Army’s psychosocial team. Twelve personnel from the two Salvation Army territories in Australia were scheduled to arrive on Monday 28 February.

Some 90 Salvation Army personnel are providing support as part of 10-man ‘suburban squads’ that also comprise representatives from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission, engineers and Christchurch City Council. The Salvation Army team members provide emotional support to residents and identify material needs – requirements for food, water and medical supplies – as well as more complex issues such as anxiety, stress, getting to a doctor, or the concerns of elderly people living in isolation.

A further 12 people, assigned to ‘flying squads’, can be brought in whenever there is a need for an intensive psychosocial response, either taking over from a person who is delayed or taking their place and moving on with the rest of the assessment team. This team made 79 visits yesterday (Monday 28 February).

Salvationists are also on hand to speak to the bereaved who attend police briefings on the missing and confirmed dead, working alongside other agencies such as Victim Support.

Friday 25 February was an extremely busy day for staff of The Salvation Army’s community ministries. At Linwood Corps (church) Community Ministries, personnel carried out 490 interviews, with food parcels provided as required. Four hundred additional food parcels delivered by 60 drivers, including volunteers from other churches, were provided to those identified as in need. Although this was slightly less than the previous day, further demand was expected to be just as high, so 800 parcels were prepared in anticipation.

As with the 2010 earthquake, The Salvation Army is receiving excellent support from its partners at World Vision, whose staff are answering calls and staffing the Army’s Christchurch headquarters at Sydenham and will provide additional call response resources at territorial headquarters in the coming week. A World Vision logistics expert is assisting in Christchurch, and a staff member with expertise in large-scale disasters is on hand at Linwood Community Ministries Centre.

Enquiries are being made to locate a larger distribution centre and more office space for several Salvation Army activities, and several corps in the South Island (particularly Nelson) are providing ‘meet and greet’ support to families who have left Christchurch.

The hastily arranged ‘Track Meet 4 Christchurch’ took place on Saturday 26 February at Wellington’s Newtown Park. In an emotionally charged atmosphere, Nick Willis was presented with his Beijing Olympic silver medal – awarded as a result of the winner being disqualified – and then recorded a sub four-minute mile. Although spectator entry to the event was free, The Salvation Army collected donations for the Christchurch relief effort.

Report by Major Christine Tyson

Donations to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal can be made online via: and clicking the "donate" link at the bottom of the news article.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Last News from New Zealand

From The Salvation Army International Headquarters in London, the following report was sent out yesterday in regards to the Army's response to the devestating earthquake in Chrstchurch, New Zealand:

Salvation Army Earthquake Response Under Way in New Zealand – Update 23 February

The Salvation Army’s earthquake response programme in Canterbury, New Zealand, is under way. Salvation Army officers (ministers) and volunteers are feeding and caring for Canterbury residents displaced by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit the region around Christchurch on Tuesday 22 February. With large loss of life reported and many people still missing, sorrow continues to engulf the South Pacific nation.

Salvation Army teams from its three North Island divisions, along with teams from the South Island corps (churches) of Mosgiel and Queenstown, comprising 50 people, are on the way to Christchurch. Other teams across South Island are on standby.

Last night, the first since the earthquake struck, Salvation Army volunteers served 1,500 meals to those unable to go back to their homes and staff provided support at emergency welfare centres.

Damage to The Salvation Army's Southern Divisional Headquarters, as well as to Christchurch City Community Ministries Centre and Christchurch City Corps, means a temporary operations centre to oversee recovery work has been set up at Sydenham Corps. Southern Division and territorial headquarters (THQ) staff are now assessing the situation across the affected area to determine the exact nature of the Army’s response. With mobile communications in the region patchy at present, communications equipment including radios, satellite phones and computers is being transported from THQ to Sydenham.

Linwood Corps and Community Ministries, which has shouldered a large part of The Salvation Army’s recovery work since the larger but less deadly September 2010 earthquake, suffered mainly superficial damage. Its officers, staff and volunteers are preparing for a steep increase in demand. Christchurch City Community Ministries Centre will not reopen in the immediate future due to quake damage and its staff are being redeployed to Linwood.

Major Campbell Roberts, who is coordinating The Salvation Army's emergency response, says the quake is a tragedy beyond description but that the Army’s experience since September and the high morale of officers and volunteers puts it in good stead to respond effectively.

Salvation Army teams are at Wellington and Auckland airports to meet hundreds of people who have been evacuated from the quake zone and offer support and light refreshments.

The Salvation Army relaunched its Canterbury Earthquake Appeal yesterday. There has been a strong response from the public and from potential corporate donors. The Salvation Army's USA Western Territory is donating US$200,000 to assist with the Army's earthquake recovery efforts. The Australia Southern Territory is donating Aus$50,000.

Large and small-scale fundraising is being organised around New Zealand. An international track meet scheduled for Christchurch this weekend was cancelled after the quake. Athletes now plan to stage a fundraising meet in Wellington to support The Salvation Army’s earthquake appeal.

The Salvation Army's international leader, General Shaw Clifton, was New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territorial Commander from 2002 to 2004. He informed current territorial commander Commissioner Don Bell that the prayers of International Headquarters were with the victims of the earthquake. ‘We are shocked, unhappy and downcast to hear overnight of a further quake in lovely Christchurch,' he said. 'We stand with you and your people in what you will do to offer relief.'

Commissioner Bell will soon visit the earthquake zone to encourage Salvation Army personnel.

Report by Major Christina Tyson

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gas Explosion Rocks NE Philly

If you follow the national news networks you would have seen the story about a major gas explosion in the Tacony neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia earlier this week.  As with most major incidents that occur in the city our Salvation Army Disaster Services team was there. 
This incident was a bit unique for us from a couple of perspectives.  For starters this incident started off much differently than it ended up.  We received a notification from the city that originally was classified as a “water main break with an odor of gas in the area”.  The first units on scene quickly realized that gas was evident heavily throughout a 4 square block area and began evacuations of nearby homes and business immediately.  Because of the evacuations this triggered our response and so we began mobilizing one of our canteens (a mobile feeding unit that provides on scene assistance to first responders and disaster survivors).
Our canteen arrived on scene in less than 40 minutes from the original call.  By this time a full response from the fire department as well as the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) was engaged on scene trying to locate the source of the leak.  Our canteen normally would have reported to the scene to check in with command, but due to the large number of evacuees, we reported directly to the reception center that was setup 2-3 blocks away at neighborhood recreation center.
Within minutes of arriving on scene a major explosion took place that leveled one building and cause significant damage to many others.  In addition to the physical damage, one firefighter and three PGW workers were severely injured and one PGW worker left missing.  Our canteen, even though more than 2.5 blocks away, was rocked by the massive explosion.
The explosion then prompted a major incident response by our office bringing more volunteers and equipment to the scene.  Initially we had planned to move the canteen up to the scene, but once the fire erupted in the intersection we immediately decided to stay put until Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) officials deemed the area more secure. 
In the end it was a good decision not just for safety, but because more than 80 individuals had arrived at the reception center, 24 from one retirement community alone.  Our team had immediately began providing comfort to individuals in the form of blankets, hot chocolate and emotional and spiritual care (ESC).  In coordinating closely with the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM), we also began registering folks into the center.  With the circumstances literally changing by the minute and the situation down at the scene turning drastically, the tracking and accountability of the individuals in neighboring properties became all the more important.
After more than 90 minutes fire still raged in the intersection of Disston St. and Torsedale Ave. where the incident took place.  Around this same time our canteen relocated from the evacuation center, down to the staging area about a block away from the scene.  EDS Staff coordinated directly with officials at the command post that was established across the street from the explosion.  At the same time, volunteers began serving first responders who were aggressively trying to contain the fire and shut down the leak. 
After more than four and half hours, the fire was finally put out and placed under control.  Once this was done emergency workers immediately began searching for the missing PGW worker who was regrettably killed in the explosion. 
The reception center was finally closed around 1:00 AM and our crew was released by the fire department around 2:30 AM.  In total nearly 20 gallons of hot drinks were served between the scene and the evacuation center and more than 12 individuals were counseled by ESC volunteers working from the center. 
Responding to events like this would not be possible without dedicated volunteers.  We would be remiss if we did not than all of those involved in Tuesday’s response to this very devastating incident.  If you are interested in learning more about how to volunteer go to
After every major response we look back on lessons learned and begin to plan for future responses of similar nature.  One of the greatest things this incident on Tuesday evening reminded us of, was safety and accountability of personnel.  At times during disaster accountability seems to be an after-thought.  Events like this one though help to reiterate the importance of having safety first in every single response we do.  At the end of the day we never know what ‘s around the next corner.

To see more photos of this and other Pendel EDS responses check out our face book page at

Friday, January 14, 2011

Busy Week in EDS

Sometimes in Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) we see a major fire or other incident that goes from routine to something a bit more substantial.  For us we classify those as “major responses”.  These responses take more volunteer support, more feeding and generally more overall resources to handle than our average response.  This past week we not only see one, but THREE major responses!
The chain of events started on Sunday morning with a 5 alarm fire in Charter School in West Philadelphia.  The fire that started in the basement quickly spread throughout the entire building, bringing in 5 alarms worth of equipment totaling more than 150 fire and emergency personnel.  Our EDS Canteen was on scene within the first hour and provided hot drinks, gloves, hand warmers and snacks to personnel for more than 6 hours.

On Monday the second major response turned out to be far more severe than Sunday’s, as fire quickly engulfed a 5 story apartment building in West Philadelphia (less than 10 blocks from the previous days fire).  The 90 unit apartment building had fire quickly spreading throughout as firefighters worked to contain the blaze.  More than 100 people took shelter in a neighboring High School, before being relocated because the smoke from the fire began entering that building as well.
Our EDS canteen arrived on scene less than 30 minutes from the initial call and began serving both firefighters and evacuees from the apartments.  EDS staff on scene coordinated with the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Red Cross to setup the reception center to assist the evacuated residents.  Roughly 2 hours into the response EDS had 3 units (a canteen and two support units) and 8 personnel working between the scene and the reception center serving both residents and emergency personnel.
Our team was on scene for more than 9 hours that first night and served more than 180 dinner meals between the scene and the shelter.  The Salvation Army volunteers provided feeding at the shelter sight throughout the night with hot and cold drinks, snacks and other items.  Emotional and Spiritual Care (ESC) team members working at the shelter provided counseling to more than 70 individuals and had prayer with at least seven of the residents directly.  It was a very long and cold night as temperatures fell into the low 20’s that evening with a wind chill in the teens.
On Tuesday (1/11) we continued to provide service to the shelter residents.  About 20 residents spent that first night in the makeshift Locke School shelter and EDS volunteers provided breakfast and snacks to them and shelter workers that day.  A service center was then setup by OEM to assist with initial assistance from the Red Cross and Salvation Army EDS provided lunch to the 120 people that came seeking assistance.
A request came in the early afternoon for dinner and we were hopeful then that this may be the last meal needed at the shelter so we could begin ramping down our operations….that was not to be.  As dinner was being cooked another fire was dispatched this time in the Kensington section of Philly, and EDS crew were quickly called to that scene as well. The fire on Tuesday in a vacant warehouse building quickly spread to 4 alarms and due to smoke and flying embers caused the evacuation of nearby homes.  Complicating this already massive response was the second big winter storm of the season, predicted to dump 5-8 inches on the Delaware Valley. 
As the shelter operation ramped down and the last few individuals were placed in hotel for the week, our services too came to a close. Volunteers and equipment were redeployed to the fire scene in Kensington to assist there with feeding and hydration services.
Wednesday morning brought more tragedy as EDS responded to a seemingly routine house fire in North Philly, only to find that a mother and 3 children had died in the blaze.  EDS team members provided ESC to neighbors and family members that had come to the scene.  These types of fires prove to us time and again that nothing is ever “routine”.
As we continue to ramp up our recovery efforts for the 118 individuals from Monday’s apartment fire, we thank the Lord for getting everyone out safely.  At the same time we pray for the family of Wednesday’s fire and the grieving they are doing for their loved ones lost. 

Volunteer Sue Guyman serving chief's

We like to say in EDS that no two days are ever the same.  Many hours of service by dedicated volunteers helped to make our efforts this week possible and a sincere THANK YOU goes out to them all.  We are proud to serve in this unique service ministry of The Salvation Army and continue to do so through disaster big and small, with tragedy and miracles, and even in the unwelcome snowfall that happens sometimes.
Will keep you posted as our recovery operations unfold, so until next time….

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Newest Arrival for the EDS Fleet

As of Friday (January 7, 2010) or latest addition to the fleet of disaster vehicles was placed into full service.  We actually took delivery of the 2010 Ford pick-up truck in early October of last year, but just completed the final outfitting on Friday, thus making it completely ready for service!  This truck is our first new vehicle since replacing our previous pick-up truck (a 2002 F-250) with our Chevy Suburban back in 2008. 
The pick-up truck unit numbered S-2 (the ‘S’ designating it as a support vehicle that handles cargo primarily) came about based in large part on our service during last winter’s ridiculous THREE major snow storms, combining for a record breaking nearly 80 inches of snow.  During the storms last year we were asked by the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to help deliver meals to the plow crews operating around the clock to clear snow.  We were able to accomplish the task with our two Ford Econoline series vans, both equipped with snow chains, but it was still not without some struggles negotiating the many feet of accumulated snow on the city streets. 
We had for some time discussed a need for an additional support vehicle, but the snow storms showed us that we were in definite need of that vehicle to be 4-wheel drive.  In June of last year we set out to looking into what vehicles would be best suited for our operations and settled on the Ford F-150 as the best vehicle for the variety of functions we perform.
The truck we purchased is a 4-door, mid-size bed (measuring 6’ 8” in length) equipped with 4 wheel drive and a heavy duty towing package.  After the bidding process was complete and we had the vendor approved, we purchased the 2010 Ford F-150 pick-up truck, and proceeded to outfit the vehicle as need to support our local and divisional response operations.
The first item we added was a spray on bed-liner to the rear cargo bed to help protect it during its inevitable heavy future use.  Next we had a Lear cargo cap installed to help keep our equipment and supplies out of the elements.  We purchased the necessary radios, scanners and lighting and had all of it installed by Havis, a local emergency vehicle outfitter in Warminster, PA which completed the list of necessary upgrades from the truck’s factory form.
Although it has taken us nearly three months to complete the outfitting and make the vehicle 100% ready for response, it has not been sitting idly by.  We put the vehicle in service within its first week picking up a donation we received from the division.  Additionally the new truck proved ideal for transport during our latest bout with Mother Nature in which we received over a foot of snow the day after Christmas.  In support of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Philly the truck allowed us to transport both meals and personnel across the cities snow cover streets safely and without incident.
We hope that this truck will service us well over the coming years as we continue to provide support to communities across the Eastern PA and DE Division.  Additionally this newest unit will help us to enhance the capabilities we currently provide, and to continue providing the type of disaster relief and emergency response that our communities have come to expect.
To see more photo’s of our support truck check out our Facebook page at:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

EDS enters the Blog-o-sphere


We have finally made it to the world renowned blog-o-shpere.  It has take us some time to get all of our ducks in a row, but we have arrived to this latest entry into our social media toolbox here in the Pendel Division. 

We hope you will enjoy our posts here in the future.  We look forward to giving you some insight into the wonderful world of Emergency Disaster Services (EDS). 

What kind of things will you find here on Pendel EDS Speak?  Well we are glad you asked!  We will be posting on current events such as large or out of the ordinary responses, major disaster operations and other interesting and out of the ordinary engagements by our staff and volunteers.  We also hope to bring you some disaster preparedness tips and "nice to know" type information that we hope can help you and your family prepare for today's disasters scenarios. 

As always our biggest hope s that we can provide you a little glimpse into The Salvation Army's, Disaster Services program, that you might not otherwise see.  EDS is an integral part of the overall mission of the Army and great way for neighbors to get involved by helping neighbors. 

We look forward to posting over these next few weeks and months and hope that you will enjoy what we have to share.

God bless!