Christian ministry leading relief efforts in Hurricane stricken areas
By Marvin Schrebe
Captain John Sikes, corps commander of the Clarksburg-Harrison Corps Salvation Army returned from a trip to Southern Texas where he and hundreds of other officers in the Salvation Army continued disaster relief efforts.
The Salvation Army first mobilized for Hurricane Harvey and has since responded to Irma, Katia, and Marie as well. The Salvation Army and its wide range of resources were spread thin due to the multiple disasters that struck the Caribbean this year but has effectively worked distributing aid as quickly as possible. The Salvation Army provides food and shelter along with emotional and spiritual care to those affected by disasters while maintaining their programs locally. General Andre Cox, International leader of the Salvation Army writes on the Salvation Army website “As you would expect The Salvation Army was quickly deployed, as we are always ready to respond to human need. The Salvation Army in the USA is well resourced, trained and networked to be able to respond instantly and work in partnership with other agencies. As with other disasters around the world, The Salvation Army is not just there for the immediate crisis. We are there for the duration – to see people through the immediate disaster and to help them rebuild lives, homes, businesses and communities.”
Even as the Salvation Army was responding to Hurricane Harvey in Texas resources were reallocated to respond to Hurricane Irma in Florida and now Hurricane Marie in the Caribbean. Captain Christa Bryan, commander of the Salvation Army resources on St. Thomas said, "Our little island cannot handle another storm ... There are very few safe structures left that can handle even the smallest of storms."
Explaining the effect that Irma had on the island, the captain recounts, "What was once lush and green now looks barren and bleak. Building collapses, missing roofs, trees and power lines down everywhere, what was once green is now brown." Bryan described the hurricane as, "An experience I never want to [go through] again, but one I'm grateful for God being in the midst of.”
Captain Bryan told the Salvation Army website that the toll of the storms cannot be measured in purely financial or physical losses but must also be measured in terms of emotional distress. Her first order of business after Irma and Marie swept through the island was to reestablish contact with corps (church) members on St. Thomas. She says just knowing that the church survived was reassuring because it signified that God is not done with the corps there. Many people fail to realize that along with being a benevolent organization, the Salvation Army is a church in its own right.
In Puerto Rico the Salvation Army is responding as well. Logistics are a major problem but the Army is working with UPS and others to overcome the transportation issues and allocate relief where it is needed. It is needed everywhere there. The biggest concern throughout the corps is the impact of Marie on an infrastructure that is already heavily impacted by Irma and Harvey. In spite of the infrastructure problems however the corps continues to meet the needs of those impacted on all fronts.
Photo: Salvation Army stock photo