Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 10-Spiritual Care Ground Forces

The Salvation Army is constantly evolving and changing the way it responds to disasters! Due to the impact that this tornado had on the people in this area, The Salvation Army wanted to make the Emotional and Spiritual Care support to be a priority in our initial service delivery. While Emotional and Spiritual Care has always been an understood in our disaster delivery service, the Army is now deploying officers (ministers) and carefully chosen, trained volunteers as Emotional and Spiritual Care Specialists. These ESC personnel are tasked with the care of not only affected people, but also other disaster responders. The Salvation Army sent one of the largest continents of ESC personnel to this disaster response in my memory.

Because of the increased response in this trained personnel, we were able to deploy ESC teams with trucks and other vehicles to affected areas as “spiritual care ground forces.” These ground force teams were able to get into some areas that our mobile feeding units could not get into and offer assistance. Some of the areas were so damaged and difficult to traverse that the ESC teams were forced to walk along roads dragging coolers of cold drinks and snacks. Far from just offering physical comfort, these teams were bringing the love of God to places that had seen such sorrow!

I had a chance to work with these teams for my first two days here in Oklahoma. These dedicated officers and volunteers took to their work like trained soldiers. Every morning, they would go to the distribution warehouse and load up with supplies. From drinks to snacks to candy to small toys, they were loading up “ammunition of love” to be shared with everyone they came in contact with! They prayed as they walked! They prayed as they talked! They spoke hope to people who did not have any hope! The days were long! Some of the teams had to seek shelter during inclement weather. There were sunburns and tired feet, exhaustion and emotional wear. But, these faithful soldiers trudged on and brought hope, peace, and love to the people of this land.

Pray for the people of Oklahoma! Pray for those who are helping! Pray for those who will be staying and helping in the future!

God Bless the people of Oklahoma!
God Bless the work of the responders!
And, God Bless The Salvation Army!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Salvation Army reinforcements arrive – News – Citizens Voice

Salvation Army reinforcements arrive – News – Citizens Voice.

To help cope with the scope of the damage in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Lee, the Salvation Army has brought in reinforcements.



Local members of the nonprofit, faith-based organization have been on the ground since the flood on Sept. 8-9, and this weekend about 40 more arrived from Georgia to lend a hand.

“The Salvation Army is fully committed to this process,” said Capt. Doug McClure of Albany, Ga. “We’re not going away any time soon.”

Transition is in the works from immediate response to longer-term assistance, according to Salvation Army Public Information Officer Shane Autry of Norcross, Ga.



The organization is providing food in the form of hot meals and boxes of groceries; cleanup kits that include mops, brooms, gloves, bleach and cleaner; other supplies including drinking water and ice; gift cards and vouchers for the Salvation Army thrift stores; and emotional and spiritual support.

“Salvation Army doesn’t focus on disasters,” McClure said. “Salvation Army focuses on hope and relief after disasters.”

To supplement the permanent Salvation Army Citadel at 17 S. Pennsylvania Ave. in Wilkes-Barre, a temporary command center and warehouse has been established in an industrial building at 1110 Hanover St. in Hanover Township which formerly housed Thales Broadcast & Multimedia.

Use of the building was donated by businessman and real estate developer Robert Mericle, who gained notoriety in the wake of Luzerne County’s worst corruption scandal.

According to prosecutors, Mericle paid about $2.1 million to former county judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan to help him get a contract to construct two for-profit juvenile detention centers, and he now faces up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to withholding information from federal agents.

Mericle sent crews to help shore up the levee in Forty Fort during the flood and has since been providing equipment and employees to assist with cleanup in ravaged areas of Jenkins Township and Duryea.

“All of our contributions to the flood relief effort have been completely voluntary,” Jim Cummings, vice president of marketing for Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services, stated in an email. “We have no intention to seek reimbursement and never did.”


Members of the Salvation Army appreciate Mericle’s latest generosity: “He really helped us out,” Autrey said.

The Hanover Township building is being used as a staging area and warehouse, for items to be shipped, stored and sorted. They will be distributed through the Wilkes-Barre citadel, where Autrey said long-term case management will be set up.

McClure said there are six mobile canteen units, some of which have been brought up from the southern states, that are being deployed to flood-destroyed areas like Shickshinny and parts of Wyoming County.

This week the Salvation Army will seek community volunteers to help pack 2,500 boxes of food to distribute to flood victims, Maj. Ed Binnix said.

For people who want to donate, cleaning supplies are most needed, he said. They can be dropped off at the citadel on Pennsylvania Avenue, but clothing and furniture must be taken to the Salvation Army thrift shops on Sans Souci Parkway in Hanover Township or Kidder Street in Wilkes-Barre.

“They’re equipped to move large amounts of clothing,” Binnix said, adding, “Because of the nature of this, we need really good, usable furniture.”

“People will be restoring their whole houses,” Autrey said., 570-821-2072

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Day 1 & 2 of Emergency Disaster Service (EDS) Deployment – Wilks-Barre, PA

On September 17, 2011, I was deployed along with 40 other people from the state of Georgia to the Wilks-Barre, Pennsylvania flood response.

I flew out of Albany, GA at 6:00am and arrived in Philadelphia a little after 12 noon.  My original deployment assignment was the Canteen Operation Coordinator.  My assignment is to coordinate the activities of 7 mobile feeding units and their crews.  We were originally sending crews from Wyoming County to Hazleton.  A canteen unit is able to cook and deliver food to remote or local areas.

With meals, bags of ice, and bottled water, our canteen crews were able to deliver cleanup kits (picture left) to these families.  A cleanup kit contains bleach, cleaner/degreaser, broom, scrubber, sponges, gloves, and mask to assist in the cleaning of an area.  All of these items are available free to all of the people who come to the window.  The Salvation Army is available to offer physical support in every way a person might need it.

Also, loaded on many of the canteens is a Salvation Army Emotional and Spiritual Care worker.  With the meals and physical supplies offered to everyone who needs it, The Salvation Army is also looking for the emotional and spiritual well-being of the individual.  People are being prayed with, lives are being changed, change is being made, good is being done!

Canteens have become a welcome addition to many of the communities in which they have been ministering at!

Disaster is a lot of hard work, a lot of last minute decisions.  Dealing with consequences of the decisions we made and the consequences of unavailable events comprises a lot of the management of disaster services.  It is also a chance to work with some of the finest people in the world.  Some of the people who are the unsung heroes of disasters are Lt. Dan Nelson and Capt. Marion Platt (pictured right).  Lt. Dan Nelson is part of the Incident Command System.  His assignment is Finance & Administration.  He is responsible for all of the financial decisions, recording, accounting, statistical reporting, and personnel.  He has a very difficult job.  He has to manage not only the money and donations, but also the care, feeding, and transportation of over 50 disaster workers and volunteers.

Also, in the picture on the right is Marion Platt.  Captain Platt is the Team Leader from the Georgia Division.  Marion is responsible for the care and disposition of all of the forces from the state of Georgia.

Disaster responders are called from many different areas.  Along with our forces from Georgia is a great team from the Kentucky/Tennessee Division.  Lt. Nelson is one of those officers.  They have been instrumental in setting the tone for the response and are ultimately responsible for the success of the disaster up until this point.  Our Incident Commander, Major Ed Binnix, is a veteran field officer and an experienced disaster specialist.  We have been fortunate to have his wisdom and expertise as we move forward.

I would ask that you pray for those who have been affected in this disaster.  Pray for those of us who have responded to God and The Salvation Army’s call to respond!  Pray for those we left behind to keep the “home fires burning.”

Sol Deo Gloria!