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The Salvation Army Is Transitioning To Long-Term Disaster Recovery in Oklahoma

The Salvation Army is transitioning to long-term disaster recovery in Oklahoma throughout the month of May 2013.

Oklahoma City, OK (July 17, 2013)—The Salvation Army is transitioning to long-term disaster recovery in Oklahoma throughout the month of May 2013. Recovery services, which will include everything from food and financial assistance to emotional care and rebuilding efforts for families and individuals who have been impacted by the tornadoes, floods and other severe weather, will continue for at least the next 24 months. The Salvation Army will utilize “2013 Oklahoma Storm” donations and work alongside other relief organizations to ensure that all needs are met.

“Transitioning to a long-term recovery effort is an important step, not just for The Salvation Army, but also for the individuals and families who lost so much during these devastating storms,”

said Major Steve Morris, Divisional Commander of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division of The Salvation Army. “The Salvation Army is committed to making sure that donations given for this disaster will be used to continue to provide assistance to storm survivors.”

Thanks to generous donations from the American public, The Salvation Army has raised approximately $12 million to date for relief efforts in Oklahoma. All donations for the “2013 Oklahoma Storm” will be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance to survivors of the storms that affected the state.

The Salvation Army has committed $4 million to response operations since the first tornadoes struck the state on May 18. Salvation Army disaster personnel activated 31 mobile kitchens and opened a 100,000 sq. ft. distribution center, providing more than:

  • 89,477 meals
  • 129,181 drinks
  • 170,379 snacks
  • 14,728 individuals received emotional and spiritual care
  • 51,988 comfort kits
  • 10,249 Clean Up Kits
  • 28,891 hours of employee and volunteer service
  • 6,381 cases opened and services provided to 31,208 with assistance through distribution of cards, vouchers, and referrals

The Salvation Army also provided survivors with blankets, Bibles, brooms, rakes, shovels, wheel barrows, totes, food boxes, infant supplies and cases of water.

The Salvation Army also participated in Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) in Carney, Little Axe, Shawnee, El Reno and Moore; all have now closed in preparation to the transition to long-term recovery. Along with other partner agencies, The Salvation Army plans to participate in the Multi-Agency Long-Term Recovery Center. In anticipation of opening soon, a call center, led by the American Red Cross, has been set up to begin recording qualifying cases. Call center staff will do intake along with casework teams who are available to respond and/or collect information for follow up on an as needed basis. The number to the call center is 866-477-7276.

Working in cooperation with partner agencies, The Salvation Army is developing plans to allocate approximately $8 million toward long-term disaster recovery assistance.

Recovery Phase
  • The Salvation Army will participate in the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project to conduct disaster case management for individuals and families in need of long term recovery.
  • The Salvation Army has also allocated funds to meet survivors unmet recovery needs that have not been covered by federal disaster assistance or private insurance.
  • The Salvation Army is also committed to helping Oklahomans to be better prepared and protected from future disasters. The Salvation Army has allocated funds for Youth and Senior Outreach programs and Mitigation efforts to help families better protect themselves from future storms.

“In Oklahoma, The Salvation Army has seen a new level of need. As we transition to long-term recovery efforts, we are incorporating experiences we have learned from past disaster response operations, but looking forward, we may encounter a need that is new and unplanned,” said Major Morris.

To learn more about The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services program, please visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a broad array of social services that range from providing 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. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.

Major Don Wildish

Major Don Wildish Recounts Ministering In Unusual Places

Major Don Wildish

Moore, OK (June 15, 2013)—“We’ve had some very unusual ministries and frankly, we’re just looking for the ministries wherever we travel,” says Major Don Wildish, an officer with The Salvation Army in Sherman, Texas.

Wildish’s 2-week deployment to Oklahoma has been anything but usual, if there is such a thing.

He arrived on May 31, 2013, with an assignment to offer Emotional and Spiritual Care to those affected by the tornado that touched down in Moore 11 days earlier. The first night in town he and a few others headed out for dinner, but shortly after arriving the tornado sirens began to blare.

“The restaurant invited us to take shelter, but there was no way I was going to take shelter in a place where there was big hot stoves and sharp knives,” Wildish recalls.

So without knowing his way around town, Wildish drove toward the one thing he could see – bright blue skies above the airport.

“But then the skies turned dark and we had to go a different way. We ran from one tornado only to run into another one,” he says.

With the skies turning overhead, Wildish and his group took cover at the next place they saw, a hotel outside of the airport. The staff inside was in the process of asking guests to come down from their rooms and occupy the first floor.

“We gathered into the bathroom and stuffed as many people into the men’s restroom as we could – both women and men. I had an opportunity to have a word of prayer with them and let them know the Lord was with us.”

The storm brewing outside left her mark; the National Weather Service has since marked it as the ‘widest known tornado in U.S. history,’ stretching 2.6 miles at its widest point. With two massive storms less than two weeks apart, Wildish certainly had his work as an Emotional and Spiritual Care volunteer cut out for him.

A few days later he decided to go into Moore.

“I wanted to see if there was any movement. I wanted to see if there was anyone I could serve. When I got into the middle of destruction, a place where there was nothing left at all, I found a woman, an older woman, working outside to trim her hedges. I asked her if she needed help, and she said, ‘Well, there’s a few spots up there that are too high for me to reach’.”

Wildish took the clippers from her and began to trim her hedges. As he finished the area she asked if he could help with a few other spots on the other side.

“Once I finished the second area she told me that we needed to move the clippings to the curb,” he recounts.

“Well we have to take it to the curb,” she explained, “That’s where the collectors come to pick up the trash.”

Wildish looked at the devastation around, but recognized what it meant for this woman to be able to take care of the one thing left standing among all of her belongings.

“…so we climbed over a few piles of debris, in order to place the hedge clippings in a spot where the collector would find them.”

When Major Wildish finished the task he asked the woman if she needed additional help.

“No, I’m just gonna go back and sweep my porch; it needs sweeping,” she answered.

“You’re right,” he said back to her. “It does need sweeping.”

Major Wildish asked the woman if he could pray with her and then was on his way.

Throughout the rest of the day he had other chances to serve.

“My ministry has taken me to places where I don’t even know where I’m at. In Union City, going towards El Reno, we would stop and I would just give a drink and some snacks to the men working on the electrical lines and the other crews that were just working to free up traffic.

Later I found a family who needed help loading a box spring and a mattress into their new home.

Another time we found a house where power lines were down. I could not get to the house. We stood out in front and I yelled, ‘If there’s anyone inside, please step out,’ and a moment later a couple came to the door. I couldn’t get to them, and they couldn’t get to me, because the power lines were down in between us. But we were able to toss them a dozen drinks over the power line into their yard. We got them a large plastic bag of snacks and threw it over the power line too.”

Major Wildish says his assignment is simple, and he’s honored by the chance he has to serve.

“We’ve been in some real peculiar situations out there, but it’s my roll just to bring some comfort, bring some strength to those in need.”