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.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest 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. 81 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.