Fast Facts — April 2011 Tornadoes — May 9, 2011

Published by Territorial Headquarters,
Communications Bureau
Community Relations & Development Department, Atlanta, Georgia

The Salvation Army responded immediately following major tornado activity in the southern United States, serving the immediate needs of survivors by providing food, beverages, emotional/spiritual care, and other necessities. The following information represents the Southern Territory’s fifteen states and the District of Columbia.

• The Salvation Army has served 186,301 hot meals, 436,360 sandwiches, snacks & drinks.
• The Salvation Army has provided 54 Mobile Feeding Units (Canteens), 1 Field Kitchen, capable of producing 20,000 hot meals per day, 1 Shower Unit, and 2 Satellite Communications trailers.
• The Salvation Army has ministered through its Pastoral Care to 7,997 individuals.
• The Salvation Army has begun helping with emergency Social Services in several locations.
• Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers have served a total of 48,698 hours.

Please note: All inquiries for gifts in kind should apply through www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano Visits
with The Salvation Army

Ringgold, GA – United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, visited the Joint Disaster Recovery Center in Ringgold, GA today and greeted local disaster response personnel. Among the many relief agencies represented there was the Salvation Army who is providing physical and spiritual support to local storm survivors. Secretary Napolitano praised local relief agencies and local residents of Catoosa County who have shown great resilience and initiative in rebuilding their community. State and local leaders were also on hand to give recognition to both citizens and relief agencies who have tirelessly worked together to rise up from this recent disaster.

During her visit, Secretary Napolitano greeted Salvation Army staff who were working both inside and outside of the recovery center providing assistance to local survivors. Currently, the Salvation Army is providing assistance inside the recovery center in the form of nonperishable food boxes and other necessities on a case by case basis depending upon the need as well as serving on the outside at a comfort station providing water and snacks to anyone who has need.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges everyone who has been affected by the storm in any way to register with them as soon as possible to ensure that they receive all possible assistance that may be available to them. The Disaster Recovery Center is located at 36 Muscogee Trail in Ringgold.
May 08, 2011 – 3:27 PM EDT

Media Contact:

Lt. David Costellow
Public Information Officer
david_costellow@uss.salvationarmy.org

Salvation Army’s Disaster Recovery Center Locations for Monday, May 9

In Tennessee:

Chattanooga, TN — The Salvation Army is continuing to “Do the Most Good” by providing for the immediate needs of those affected by the storm. This need may come in the form of nonperishable food boxes, toiletries, baby needs, limited support for lost medication, gasoline, and other necessities on a case by case basis depending upon the need. The following locations represent where the Salvation Army is meeting the immediate needs in our community.

Bradley County, TN — The Joint Disaster Recovery Center is located at the Old Cleveland Bank and Trust Building, 10 Church Street NE, Cleveland, TN 37311. Immediate needs can be met at the Peerless Road Church of God of Prophecy, 3301 Peerless Rd., Cleveland, TN 37312.

Hamilton County, TN — The Salvation Army Disaster Recovery Centers are located at The Salvation Army in East Lake, 2140 East 28th Street, Chattanooga, TN 37407 and in Tiftonia at John A. Patten School, 3202 Kelly’s Ferry Rd., Chattanooga, TN 37419

In Georgia:

Catoosa County, GA — The Joint Disaster Recovery Center is located at 36 Muscogee Trail, Ringgold, GA, 30736.

Walker County, GA — The Joint Disaster Recovery Center is located at Walker County Agriculture Center, 10058 N. Highway 27, Rock Springs, GA 30739.

Media Contact:

Lt. David Costellow
Public Information Officer
david_costellow@uss.salvationarmy.org
(270) 881-6510

Salvation Army Disaster Assistance and Distribution Locations for Alabama and Mississippi

Jackson, MS — The Salvation Army’s disaster service continues to tornado survivors in Alabama and Mississippi. Distribution and case workers are available at the following locations:

ALABAMA

Birmingham/Jefferson County (350 Industrial Blvd, B’ham, 35211)

Guntersville/Marshall County (1500 Sunset Drive – Guntersville Recreation Center) Casework ONLY

Guntersville/Marshall County (609 Blount Avenue)

Cullman/Cullman County (103 3rdAve – Thrift Store)

Arab/Marshall County (1336 Gunter Avenue – Thrift Store)

Anniston/Calhoun County (171 Town Center Drive – Ft. McClellan)

Russellville/Franklin County (204 Ash Ave. – Russellville Recreation Center)

Jacksonville/Calhoun County (Eagle Point Church, Jacksonville,)

Decatur/Morgan County (Corps building – 114 14thStreet, Decatur)

Fort Payne/Dekalb County (450 Gault Ave North – Service Center)

Huntsville/Madison County (Corps building -2114 Oakwood Ave)

Jasper/Walker County (Thrift Store – 207 20thSt, Jasper, Al)

Pisgah/Jackson County (3030 County Road 58 Pisgah)

Montgomery/Elmore & Autauga Counties (900 Maxwell Blvd, Montgomery)

Oneonta/Blount County (333 Valley Road – Service Center)

MISSISSIPPI

Meridian/Lauderdale County (120 6thAv South – Social Services)

Houston/Chickasaw County (114 Washington Street, Houston, MS – Service Center)

Oxford/Lafayette County (2649 West Oxford Loop – Thrift Store)

Applicants for assistance are asked to bring identification for each person to receive assistance. Additionally, a FEMA number is helpful to expedite assistance.

The Salvation Army is preparing contingency plans to respond to potential severe flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Currently, The Salvation Army is organizing resources in Jackson, Mississippi for response to counties and parishes in Mississippi and Louisiana that experience flooding. Feeding support, clean up kits and pastoral care will be available to those affected by flooding.

Media Contact:

Mark Jones
ALM Divisional P.I.O.
mark_jones@uss.salvationarmy.org
(601) 278-2100

The Salvation Army in Tuscaloosa Celebrates the 58th National Salvation Army Week by Continuing to Serve Tornado Victims and Disaster Relief Workers

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – Without celebration or parade, Tuscaloosa kicked off National Salvation Army Week today. Six mobile disaster feeding kitchens deployed again this morning, continuing their work serving meals and providing humanitarian aid to people in the community affected by the April 27 tornado.

Since 1954, National Salvation Army Week has been observed every year in the United States. Nationally, this week serves as a reminder to encourage Americans to remember the mission of The Salvation Army and their continued work in communities throughout the country.

Locally, The Salvation Army hopes this week will remind its neighbors and friends throughout the community of the organization’s continued efforts to aid those affected by the disaster in April… even when they lost all of their local capabilities when the tornado destroyed all their buildings and the mobile disaster response canteen.

On the first declaration of this event in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed his appreciation saying, “Among Americans, The Salvation Army has long been a symbol of wholehearted dedication to the cause of human brotherhood . . . Their work has been a constant reminder to us all that each of us is neighbor and kin to all Americans. Giving freely of themselves, the men and women of The Salvation Army have won the respect of us all.”

This past weekend The Salvation Army distributed 6,928 meals and over 5,000 cold drinks to tornado victims and disaster relief workers. Almost 1,000 cleanup buckets (including collapsible brooms and a mop, gloves, trash bags, sponge, cleaning solution, bleach and other supplies) were given out at 5 locations around Tuscaloosa, Holt and Alberta.

Media Contact:

Shane A. Autrey
Public Information Officer, Tuscaloosa Incident Command

p: (404) 550-2963
e: Shane_Autrey@uss.salvationarmy.org

Donations:

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 www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) and designate their gift “April 2011 Tornado Outbreak.” Checks may be made out to:

The Salvation Army Disaster Relief
P.O. Box 100339
Atlanta, GA 30384-0339

At this point, in-kind donations are not being accepted outside the disaster area. Used clothing and used furniture are seldom required during an incident. However, these gifts are vitally important in supporting the day-to-day work of your local Salvation Army. Please consider giving these items to your local Salvation Army Thrift Store or dial 1-800-SA-TRUCK.

Donation totals:

As of May 9, 2011 $1,789,182 had been raised in support of relief efforts.

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

PIO Contacts:
Mark Jones-Divisional PIO – Alabama, Louisiana & Mississippi
Mark_jones@uss.salvationarmy.org Cell 601 278-2100

Kimberly George-Divisional PIO – Kentucky, Tennessee
Kimberly_George@uss.salvationarmy.org Cell: 423-503-1801

Valerie Johnson- Divisional PIO – Georgia
Valerie_Johnson@uss.salvationarmy.org Cell: 678-735-0480

Cindy Fuller- Divisional PIO – Arkansas, Oklahoma
Cindy_Fuller@uss.salvationarmy.org Cell: 405-830-6549

Follow us on the following Social Media sites:

Facebook: Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services

Youtube.com/salarmyeds

Twitter:
@salarmyEDS @salvationarmyus @southern_spirit
@BhamSALVARMY @salarmyalm @tsacleveland
@SalArmyChattown

Richard LeMieux: Fomerly Homeless Individual

Richard LeMieux
Formerly Homeless Individual
Author of Breakfast at Sally’s

What is the newest issue emerging in homelessness policy?
More and more hard-working Americans across the country are finding themselves in the same place I was seven years ago: homeless, living in their car, in the woods, or in abandoned homes, feeling lost and afraid with little or no hope. Families, including women and children who felt they were living the American Dream, are becoming an increasing part of the homeless population, not just in cities but in rural areas. This comes just when it appeared that city, county, state, and national programs were reducing chronic homelessness.

This growing tragedy has been a blight on our nation for some time now. I know from first-hand experience. I became homeless in 2002 and spent two years living in my van and another nine months living in a church in Bremerton, WA.

Once a vibrant, successful and well-respected businessman, I lost it all during a change in the business world. I made a series of bad business decisions that led to my becoming homeless.

During that time I was taught how to survive by chronically homeless men who begged in front of 7-Eleven for alcohol, raided dumpsters at night, and slept in the woods.

With no intent to create a book, I began writing “Breakfast at Sally’s,” documenting my journey into homelessness with my little dog Willow. These papers became a full-length book that now allows readers to see what I saw, feel how I felt, and understand how others are living. Many have said to me that “Breakfast at Sally’s” puts a face on homelessness.

In the past seven years I have seen homelessness grow daily, especially among the rural population. Unfortunately, the situation has been amplified by a financial crisis that has led to record foreclosures and devastating loss of credit for the families being evicted.

Soup kitchens are overwhelmed. So are the food banks and shelters, as people like me, who never dreamed of being homeless, are forced to utilize these services. The newly homeless families who gave to food banks not long before are now in line. And they are finding what I did seven years ago — that there is not enough help. There is food, clothing, and a few dollars here and there, but there is little or no housing when you are homeless and without credit.

President Barak Obama has stated repeatedly, “The government in Washington is broken.” It appears that the problem runs even deeper than this. Wall Street, the auto industry, the healthcare industry, and of course, the existence of affordable housing have all degenerated while individuals collect millions in personal wealth.

I believe it is time for each American to ask what they can do to make the lives of all Americans safe and secure. Every congressman and corporate leader should put themselves in the shoes of a homeless person and ask themselves if they, their wives, or their children should live like that in this country. Maybe then they will take every step necessary to make sure no American does.

What issue in homelessness policy should everyone be reminded of?
Many people are becoming homeless; even those that you don’t think could lose their homes.

On my 50th birthday, when I was traveling first class in Italy, France, and Paris, the prospect that I would become homeless just eight years later would have caused me to double over with laughter. Even at age 55, with my own business crisis looming, I could not have guessed this would be my fate. I considered myself a self-made man, successful by my own hard work and good judgment. I was confident and believed I had an answer for almost everything.

When my publishing business began to fail because my clients began utilizing websites and internet communication, I believed I could succeed by working harder and being more innovative. But soon I was borrowing more and more to survive while living in denial of my steadily increasing problems. Eventually everything caught up to me and I became deeply depressed, stopped answering phone calls, and lost interest in the things around me. It wasn’t long before I lost my three cars, my three boats, my wife, my friends and my children. I had lost my identity and was headed toward self-destruction.

I have met so many others with similar stories. They became homeless because of economic, social, or emotional catastrophes beyond their control – former firemen, fishermen, nurses, soldiers and others who led productive lives. They became homeless with no hope of returning to a home and the life they once knew.

I was more fragile than I ever thought – something more and more people are discovering — shocked, alone, and lost. I thought I had a safety net for bad times. But I found I did not really have a financial safety net, family safety net, psychological safety net, or spiritual safety net. Now, with our ever-changing economy, even more holes are popping up in the safety nets people thought they had, and many people are falling through those holes into despair and homelessness.

How did you start writing about the field of homelessness (or housing)?
I had worked to build a dream life for myself and the ones I loved. I never expected to be homeless. When I was 50 I was wealthy, carefree, and surrounded by those who loved me and my lifestyle. But on Christmas Day, 2002, at age 58, I was homeless, alone, and living in my van. I was lost in deep depression and considered jumping off the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State.

That night, after failing to end my then miserable existence, I found my way to The Salvation Army (a.k.a. Sally’s) in Bremerton, WA and slept in their parking lot.

In the morning I awoke to the sound of people talking. They were in line for breakfast at Sally’s. Still cold and wet from the previous night’s failure, I stepped into line. I, who had been living the American Dream, who had never had a conversation with a homeless person for more than 30 seconds, whose biggest contribution to ending homelessness had been to toss coins into a hat on the pavement, would spend the next three years having many conversations with homeless people at soup kitchens all over town.

It was then that my eyes opened, my heart opened, and my mind opened. In time I would learn the events and circumstances that led to these people becoming homeless – sometimes self-inflicted and sometimes caused by others and circumstances they could not control.

As one of “them,” I found them confiding in me. They shared meager resources with me, protected me, and respected me.

As I learned to live with little or no hope from day to day I found myself entwined in the lives of the homeless people who had befriended me, and soon I began caring about them. I even found myself laughing, something I had not done in a long time.

Sitting in my van under a street lamp each night, I began writing down the events of the day. At first I wrote in longhand on scrap paper and paper bags. Later on I began sitting at picnic tables in city parks, typing on a used portable typewriter I had gotten for free from a second-hand store.

Six years later I am being told that my book has put a face on homelessness, and that over and over it has changed hearts and minds. I am humbled to hear those words. My book is no longer my book. It belongs to homeless people everywhere.

Where do you draw your inspiration?
When I lived on the streets I met many “angels” who fed and clothed me and many others like me. I have known groups of women who have walked fearlessly down paths into the woods to bring food to homeless people in camps. Those women took dirty clothes out of the woods, washed them that night, and brought them back the next day with milk for homeless children, diapers for babies, even money for showers at the YMCA and YWCA. Those women took sick homeless people to the ER and arranged for emergency dental work.

I have known Salvation Army people, tired from the rigors of the day, somehow finding enough energy at 10 p.m. to open a shelter when the temperature was intolerable and life was at risk.

I am inspired by those who understand that homeless people are just people who need help. They look forward, understanding the mistakes of the past but building on the future, investing in people and giving hope to the hopeless in word and deed.

I have also been inspired by those homeless people who, despite living a meager existence themselves, find a way to share small resources, smile, and encourage others when times are dark and there is no hope in sight.

Without that help from the homeless people I knew, I may not be alive today.

Why do you think ending homelessness is possible?
I know that it is possible to end homelessness when people invest in people, because I have seen it happen, to me personally and to others.

In my case, after nearly two years in my van, I stopped at a local church to ask for gas money. After several days of cold rain my dog and I were wet and shivering. The pastor took pity on us and not only gave us $20 for gas but also money for one night in a motel. The next day I went back to thank him and he told me that I could stay and sleep that night on an old sofa in the hallway until the weather got better.

I stayed in the church for nine months. The congregation accepted me and my dog and helped us survive with food, blankets, and other necessities. After those nine months a few people in the congregation helped pay the first and last month’s rent on an apartment and also guaranteed to pay any rent when I could not. Because of my ruined credit they vouched for me. And, while I have worked to finish my book, over 300 people have helped to keep my van running, bought me medicine, and provided many types of aid.

And I am not the only one. I know first-hand of people who were homeless who are now safe in a home because of an organized effort to invest in them. I know of a man and woman who, after nine years of living on the street addicted to cocaine, are now free of that addiction, have jobs, and are buying a home because a group of people invested in them.

There will always be a small population that wishes to remain homeless. Many times it is because they do not trust anyone to help them or they believe such help will quickly end. They have been burned before. They feel discarded and have found a “family” on the streets that does not judge them.

Others prefer the freedom that homelessness gives them to any “restrictions.” They have discovered a simple life that is cheap and requires much less effort than most of us would accept.

However, for most of humanity housing is absolutely necessary to preserve sanity, security, and sobriety. I believe that if our government leaders, faith-based leaders, and civic leaders at all levels make ending homelessness a priority there will be no more homelessness in America.

We live in what we call the greatest country on earth, yet we choose to let men, women, and children live on the streets, in the woods, and in parking lots as if they were living in a Third World country.

Seven years ago I wanted to end my life. Now I want to live until I see every homeless man, woman, and child safe and warm in a home.