Hurricane Harvey – One Month Later

Getting Ready for Harvey

Since before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, The Salvation Army of Greater Houston had been meeting the needs of those potentially impacted by opening the door to all four of our homeless shelters, not turning anyone away. Our Corps Community Centers also stocked up on water, snacks, and items to make meals, so they could meet the potential need in their communities.

On August 25th, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a category four hurricane with 130 miles per hour winds. From August 26th through the 30th, Harvey covered 70% of Harris County with 1.5 feet of water, flooding an estimated 136,000 structures.

By August 30th, some Salvation Army locations had already begun operating as “shelters of last resort” and had started accepting guests that had been impacted by flooding. Relief teams were starting to reach communities and pockets of residents who had, at that point, received little or no assistance since Hurricane Harvey moved through the area.

Salvation Army Reinforcements Arrive

As the water receded, it left behind a stark picture of the overwhelming relief work and recovery that was ahead. 29 mobile feeding units deployed to provide meals, drink and emotional and spiritual care throughout the city.  The Salvation Army Florida Division arrived with a field kitchen, with the capacity to produce 15,000 meals a day to support the increased feeding efforts. They also brought two shower trailers to the area. A warehouse was quickly set up in Houston to house donations and support feeding efforts.

Just days later, threatened by the potential landfall and devastation of Hurricane Irma, assets and personnel from Florida serving in Houston returned to Florida to make necessary preparations.  Houston’s Harvey operations continued, uninterrupted with a new deployment of equipment, officers, staff, and volunteers.

On September 8th, the international leader of The Salvation Army, General André Cox, visited Houston. General Cox spent the day meeting with The Salvation Army leadership team, visiting with survivors, and encouraging Salvation Army officers, staff, and volunteers involved in the response efforts. As General Cox spoke to residents, he gave them the assurance that, “God loves you, The Salvation Army loves you, and we will be here to help.”

As water continued to recede throughout affected areas, The Salvation Army ramped up relief efforts to its highest level since the storm ended. An incredible forty mobile feeding units (canteens) responded to hardest hit communities throughout greater Houston. Polaris four wheelers brought supplies to areas inaccessible to our canteens due to debris from the storm.

Our Work Continues

The Salvation Army continues to serve in numerous locations along the Texas coastline including the Corpus Christi/Coastal Bend area, Victoria, Freeport, Galveston County, and the Golden Triangle area of Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur. More than 70 mobile feeding units and response teams are deployed throughout Texas, peaking at 96.

Because of our generous donors, The Salvation Army was already on the scene to provide relief from the storm. We will continue to help until the healing is complete.

Bringing Light to Those Suffering from Hurricane Harvey

The two-person Salvation Army crew from Kentucky rolled into Houston after dark on August 29. Just as they were ready to head out on their mobile feeding unit the following morning, residents in the Redwood Heights apartments were seeing the sun – and dry ground – for the first time in days. Their day was made a little brighter when Lt. Jane Monroe (pictured above) and Capt. Sarah Quinn arrived in their parking lot in north Houston.

Before the flood waters receded, rainfall from Hurricane Harvey had covered cars in the parking area and caused a loss of electricity in the 96-unit apartment community. The residents felt stranded and alone. Lt. Monroe and Capt. Quinn were met with smiles and cheers when they arrived on Wednesday morning. “They said we were the first ones on the scene. No one checked on them, and they felt forgotten,” said Lt. Monroe.

The Redwood Heights residents appreciated the food and the water, “but what they really needed was for someone to listen. To be present for them to talk.” As officers of The Salvation Army and skilled disaster personnel, Monroe and Quinn are trained in the “ministry of presence,” with the ability to comfort those in stressful times.

After they spent a few hours with the Redwood Heights residents, Monroe and Quinn compiled a list of supplies needed by residents and returned at dinner time with many of the items, including hygiene kits, as well as more food and water. “We ran out sandwiches and hot dogs, and burgers, so now we are passing out MREs (meals ready to eat),” said Capt. Quinn.

As of Sept. 7, The Salvation Army has served 311,955 meals, 255,522 snacks, and 321,093 drinks statewide in response to Hurricane Harvey. Emotional Spiritual Care Officers have spoken with 21,411 first responders and survivors; employees and volunteers have provided 42,938 hours of service.

“It brings us great joy to be able to help them when they felt like no one cared.”

To make a financial donation to support the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts please go to www.helpsalvationarmy.org, call 1-800- SAL-ARMY, text STORM to 51555.

(photo caption)

Lt. Jane Monroe, Salvation Army Ashland (KY) Corps Community Center, distributes meals to those affected by Hurricane Harvey in north Houston.

 

General Andre Cox Visits Houston in Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

The world leader of The Salvation Army, General André Cox, spent the day in Houston visiting with families impacted by Hurricane Harvey, as well as Salvation Army workers providing disaster relief. “It’s been humbling to see how The Army has been responding here in Houston. I’m not sure that I remember any time in recent history that we have had to mobilize just about all of our emergency response units on one incident,” said General Cox. “It is phenomenal to see the robust and energetic response that The Salvation Army is bringing here.”

General Cox began his day with crews preparing to head out on mobile feeding units to provide food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual care. Workers from across the United States and Canada continue to serve in Houston supporting efforts in the affected area. Twenty (20) mobile kitchens and response teams, with an average individual capacity to serve 1,000 meals per day, continue to provide hot meals, snacks, and hydration to Hurricane Harvey survivors, in addition to cleanup kits and other supplies.

General Cox was joined by Majors Kent and Melody Davis, Area Commanders for the Greater Houston Area Command, Lt. Colonels Ronnie and Sharon Raymer, Divisional Commanders for the state of Texas, and Commissioner Don Bell, Territorial Commander of the Southern Territory of The Salvation Army. After mobile feeding unit crews headed out, the General visited with families in a Houston community working to recover after severe flooding. Salvation Army mobile feeding units had been there for several days distributing meals, supplies, and food boxes. “I spoke with families who were devastated. It was especially frightening because these people were already vulnerable and living in the margins,” said General Cox.

After driving through Houston streets lined with trash and debris from homes in the process of clean up and repair, the General visited The Salvation Army Aldine Westfield Corps Community Center. Every day since the rains let up, the Corps Community Center has been feeding neighbors lunch and dinner. A place of comfort for the community, it also became a distribution center for food and supplies, such as hygiene kits, infant supplies, clothing, and towels and sheets. General Cox greeted the families waiting for much-needed relief and volunteers, “I am grateful for Salvationists who are mobilizing, who are working incredibly long hours trying to get the work done in impacted communities such as this one.”

The General’s last stop in Houston was The Family Residence in midtown.The center provides a place of safety and healing for women and children 365 days a year. Many of the residents are victims of domestic violence, crime, and generational poverty. In addition to the families already in the program, the Residence took in displaced families during this crisis. The General also had an opportunity to visit the adjacent Young Adult Resource Center (YARC), that addresses the needs of a growing number of young adults ages 18 to 25 experiencing homelessness.

Several times during the day, amid throngs of community members and disaster relief workers, General Cox offered prayers of comfort and inspiration, “We are concerned for those here addressing the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey because it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. They need prayer support. They need to know people are behind them praying. We want to be here, not just distributing meals for a couple of weeks and then moving on, but to be here to work alongside these people and support them in a journey that will likely take years.”

 

Hometown Football Star Vince Young, WWE’s Mark Henry, Visit Harvey Survivors

The Salvation Army of Greater Houston’s Family Residence provides a place of safety and healing for women and children. Many are escaping domestic violence, crime, and generational poverty. Others moved here to escape Hurricane Harvey. While the families work to put their lives back together, some special visitors offered an evening of respite.

“I’m a Houstonian. I feel the pain,” said Vince Young about the impact of the storm on his hometown. Young is a free agent, who played six years in the National Football League and college football for the University of Texas.  He, along with friend Mark Henry, a professional wrestler with the WWE, stopped by the Family Residence where they laughed and joked with dozens of children.

“I grew up with nothing.  My mom did the best job she could to make sure we didn’t know we were poor.  I had a happy childhood and I don’t want these kids to know about the strife,” said Henry. “I want them to persevere and have a smile on their face and know that there are people that care about them.”

Henry arm wrestled with the kids, who were amazed that they were winning at the game against a man who stands 6’4 and weighs 400 pounds. “I saw a lot of smiles today and it warmed my heart,” he said.

Family Residence staff member, Ruby Preston, said it was just what the parents and kids needed during this difficult time. “It really brought some cheer into their life,” said Preston.

Before they went home, Young offered this, “Stay strong. It’s going to take some time as we rebuild.  Know you are definitely in our prayers.  We love you. Whatever you may need, we are here.”