Disaster Updates from The Salvation Army of Texas

Salvation Army Officers Evacuate as Disaster Response Teams Prepare for Hurricane Laura Response

Dallas, Texas (August 27, 2020) – Mandatory evacuations are in place throughout much of Southeast Texas as Hurricane Laura’s landfall is now imminent.  Many residents of the region have heeded the warnings and evacuated to cities outside of the Category 4 hurricane’s projected path. While multiple Salvation Army Emergency Disaster response teams and mobile kitchens are headed to the region, Salvation Army officers living and serving in the area have temporarily evacuated.

Captains Francisco & Jan Zuniga are the Commanding Officers of The Salvation Army in Orange, TX. The threat of a major hurricane and serious flooding is not new to the Zuniga’s as they served in the region during Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda, each causing significant power outages and flooding. The Zuniga family were cut off for more than a week when their neighborhood flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

“As Salvation Army Officers (Pastors) we approach these storms and disasters in several ways – how to best serve the needs of our community, our congregation and staff, and our own family,” said Captain Jan Zuniga. “We work hand-in-hand with the Office of Emergency Management to stay up to date on what is expected of The Salvation Army in the aftermath of the storm and how we can help. We stay connected with our church members and staff during any disaster to ensure they are safe and to coordinate local response efforts. Lastly, my husband and I do our best to divide and conquer our many responsibilities, considering what is best for our two young daughters.”

10 Salvation Army mobile kitchens, staff, and volunteers from throughout Texas are positioning in Conroe, north of Houston, in preparation to move into the affected area. A disaster response team from The Salvation Army in Austin is currently providing food service at a large shelter in Huntsville already housing evacuees. Additional units are on standby to deploy after Emergency Disaster Services staff complete their initial assessment once Hurricane Laura moves out of the area.

“There are so many things to think about and handle before the storm arrives,” said Zuniga. “We finalize current social service programs and make plans for the food in our refrigerators and freezers in the case that we may lose electricity. We return after the storm as soon as possible and get right to work. Our biggest job is to make sure the community knows they are not forgotten and that The Salvation Army is here for them. As well as providing for their immediate practical needs, we also want to give them much-needed emotional and spiritual support, remind them that they are loved, and share hope.”

“Our teams will be ready to move into affected communities as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Alvin Migues, Director of The Salvation Army Disaster Services in Texas “This is a very powerful hurricane and we anticipate significant power outages and  flooding throughout East Texas, and storm surge along the entire coastal area. The Salvation Army, along with our committed partners, will do everything possible to reach and serve those affected by the storm.”

The best way to support the disaster work of The Salvation Army by making a financial donation at www.helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. For the latest information please go to www.disaster.salvationarmy.org and watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/salvationarmytexas/ and www.twitter.com/salarmytx.

Salvation Army Disaster Response Teams Position for Hurricane Laura Response

Dallas, Texas (August 25, 2020) – Trained Salvation Army staff and volunteers are preparing to move into South East Texas ahead of the anticipated landfall of Hurricane Laura on Thursday morning. Current forecasts suggest that the storm could potentially reach the coastline as a Category 3 Hurricane. Ten mobile kitchens are on standby for deployment with an additional five units in Texas being prepared should additional support be needed.

Feeding operations have already started in South East Texas where regional resource centers have been established. “The Salvation Army teams from Texas City and Beaumont are providing food to those seeking help from local resource centers, even ahead of the storm making landfall,” said Alvin Migues, Director of The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) in Texas. “We are especially concerned about the Golden Triangle and Houston areas that have historically suffered significant flooding during similar severe weather events. As the track of the storm develops, we will be in position to react and deploy, as necessary.”

As several counties begin the process of evacuation, an 11-person Incident Command Team has been assembled and will be moving into the area. The team, consisting of Salvation Army EDS professionals and Officers from throughout Texas, will pre-position in Beaumont on Wednesday. “The Incident Command Team members provide leadership in all areas of disaster response including safety, operations, logistics, finance, planning and communication. As you can imagine, there are many moving parts in a large-scale disaster response, and we have an experienced and effective team in place to support the work of our staff and volunteers on the ground,” said Migues. “At this stage we have 10 mobile kitchen teams ready to deploy to deliver food, drinks, and emotional and spiritual care, and depending on the impact of the hurricane, have more units available. Units from Houston, New Braunfels, Bryan, Beaumont, Waco, Tyler, Lewisville, and Irving, will be the first to deploy.”

Several cities outside of the projected affected area including Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, are preparing to provide shelter and assistance, should it become necessary, to those evacuating from their homes due to the storm.

EDS personnel will all be pre-screened prior to each deployment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Disaster workers will answer a series of wellness questions to determine if they are fit for duty at the time of deployment. “We have established protocols specifically to address responding to disaster during the current pandemic,” said Migues. “These include wearing a mask while serving, practicing social distancing and healthy hygiene by frequently washing their hands, and of course additional daily cleaning of mobile kitchens and other units. All aspects of service have been impacted by COVID-19 and we are committed to the safety of our staff and volunteers, while continuing to deliver help to those experiencing crisis.”

You can support the disaster work of The Salvation Army by making a financial donation at www.helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. For the latest information please go to www.disaster.salvationarmy.org and watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/salvationarmytexas/ and www.twitter.com/salarmytx.

Texas Salvation Army Preparing Response to Storms Threatening the Gulf Coast

Dallas, Texas (August 24, 2020) – The Salvation Army is closely monitoring not one, but two storms, that could potentially seriously impact communities in South East Texas and along the Gulf Coast. Tropical Storm Laura and Hurricane Marco are both anticipated to make landfall on Tuesday or Wednesday this week. 20 Salvation Army disaster units in Texas and neighboring states are fully stocked and on standby for deployment. Heavy rain and potential flash flooding are a possibility in greater Houston and throughout the Golden Triangle area.

The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) staff has been in communication with all affected field units, staff, and volunteers, placing 10 mobile feeding units in Texas on standby for pre-positioning closer to the affected area. Each mobile feeding unit has the capacity to deliver up to 1,500 meals per day. Response teams and supplies will be staged north of the potential landfall for rapid deployment into affected communities.

“It is very unusual to have two storms threatening the Gulf Coast at the same time and our EDS teams in Texas are paying special attention to Hurricane Marco,” said Alvin Migues, Texas Emergency Services Director for The Salvation Army. “Many communities in Houston, Beaumont and Orange are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and extensive flooding caused by Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019. The Salvation Army was there to provide help and practical assistance after those storms, and we will be ready and prepared to deliver services again to those affected in the coming days.”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has presented additional challenges for the emergency response teams. “Mobile kitchens, cooking and serving areas, and utensils, are all being deep-cleaned multiple times a day which takes time and increased supplies. Our teams are paying special attention to safety protocols put into place due to COVID-19, wearing PPE and social distancing. Many of our committed volunteers are older in age and so we are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe while ensuring we are in a position to effectively meet the needs of the community.”

Local preparations are underway in Houston where four mobile kitchens are stocked and ready for deployment. “At the height of service during Hurricane Harvey The Salvation Army had 103 mobile kitchens, from all over the country, serving food, snacks and drinks in Houston and South Texas,” said Major Zach Bell, Area Commander for The Salvation Army in Houston. “Our year-round commitment to serve those in crisis is only heightened during disaster response. Trained Salvation Army staff and volunteers not only provide for the immediate physical needs of those affected, but also for their emotional and spiritual needs through listening and sharing words of encouragement and prayer. The Salvation Army has been serving the residents of Houston since 1897, providing shelter, food, rehabilitation and much more, and we will continue to serve throughout this storm and beyond.”

For the latest information please go to www.disaster.salvationarmy.org and watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/salvationarmytexas/ and www.twitter.com/salarmytx. To make a donation go www.helpsalvationarmy.org.

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