Tag Archives: tornado

OKC + Joplin: Partners in Recovery

Two years ago in our division, we saw one of the worst disasters Missouri had ever seen.

We all know about the devastation that occurred in Joplin in 2011; the EF-5 tornado that left miles of destruction and families and neighbors who had lost their lives from the impact. And to this day, they are still working to rebuild their city with the help of The Salvation Army. During this time when families pulled their loved ones out of the rubble, our neighbor to the southwest–the great state of Oklahoma–came to the aid of Joplin and brought supplies, volunteers, and emotional support.

So when Moore, Okla. was hit with an EF-5 tornado two days before the two year anniversary of Joplin, there was no question that we needed to support our neighbors. The Salvation Army’s Joplin Corps Community Center immediately started taking up a collection of supplies to give to those – who just like them – lost everything. Joplin Corps officers Lt. James and Jamie Curry spearheaded the effort and the supplies were taken to Oklahoma.

We are proud to show you the supplies that the Joplin community collected to send to Oklahoma, and we are so proud to give back to those who gave so much to us two years ago.

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“I can’t replace my kids: I can deal with damage to my house”

A home in Ferguson after Friday's tornado

A home in Ferguson after Friday’s tornado

By Dana Biermann

I was out both Saturday and Sunday working with The Salvation Army’s mobile canteens that were deployed to St. Charles County and St. Louis’ North County that were hit by tornadoes Friday night. I had the privilege to speak with  several residents who were affected by the severe weather. You would think if your roof was gone or if the back of your house had been ripped off, you would be pretty mad. But the primary sentiment I heard while touring these places was gratitude.

“I know my house looks like this, but not a single person was injured by this storm. What a blessing.”

“My roof fell in on my daughter’s room, but she was still in the basement, thank God. I can’t replace my kids, [but] I can deal with damage to my house.”

“See those people cutting apart the downed trees on my lawn? I’ve never met them before, they just showed up to help.”

“The only family that was home were my dogs, and they’re doing just fine.”

An EDS volunteer serves water to residents in St. Charles County

An EDS volunteer serves water to residents in St. Charles County

Even when there’s a tree laying on their roof, the citizens of St. Louis and St. Charles have been nothing but grateful for the droves of neighbors, friends, and organizations who have donated their time to help. So it’s up to us to make sure that they can recover from the damage that Mother Nature has given them.

If you are an EDS trained volunteer, we are still working in the neighborhoods affected, so please contact gary_busiek@usc.salvationarmy.org to sign up to volunteer in our canteens. If you have not been through our EDS training, we ask that you refrain from contacting to volunteer at this time, unless it is to sign up for a future training. If you are interested in receiving training, please call 314-646-3000 and ask for our EDS department.

If you are looking for ways to help, the best thing you can do is donate money. As more specific needs arise, we want to ensure that the families affected do not need to go through red tape to get what they need, and your dollars give us the flexibility to support these residents immediately. Please give now to be a part of the recovery.

To keep up to date with our efforts, follow us on Twitter or Facebook or sign up to be on our email list.

To view photographs from our canteen tours, visit our Flickr Page.

Dynamic Duo Volunteers Make a Difference

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

Scott and Dan are more than just coworkers – they are best friends.

As volunteer maintenance workers for The Salvation Army-Harbor Light Center this dynamic duo always is on the move. They do just about everything from plumbing, electrical work, painting, organizing warehouses, fixing trucks and trailers, and disaster relief – always performing these tasks as a partnership.

Both men began their volunteering journey with The Salvation Army by performing construction at the Harbor Light Center. Realizing the poor condition of this location, their hearts were moved to help all St. Louis-area Salvation Army locations in any way possible. They have been working as an unstoppable team ever since.

Their previous projects include fixing up a playground at the Temple Corps, picking up supplies Boy Scouts collected, fixing up the Emergency Disaster Services warehouse where all the disaster relief supplies are stored, fixing up the social services warehouse where furniture for The Salvation Army is stored, among a myriad of others.

Scott (pictured left) and Dan (pictured right) saw what unfortunate condition these warehouses previously were in, so say they knew there was no other choice but to reorganize them.

In fact, upon arrival at the Emergency Disaster Services warehouse, Scott sat down and immediately wrote a list of everything that needed to be fixed. His list grew to six pages.

Following Scott’s new guidelines, every last box and machine was taken out of the warehouse, supplies were sorted through and the warehouse was reorganized in only two weeks, showing his passionate dedication.

“When we get on a job site, we don’t waste time,” says Dan proudly.

Scott and Dan’s biggest undertakings have been disaster relief projects. This unparalleled duo has helped after the tornado of New Year’s 2011, the Good Friday tornado of 2011, the Harrisburg tornadoes and the Joplin tornadoes. These two have had countless opportunities to touch lives.

“…Cleaning front yards from tornados, it’s simple stuff that really touched people,” explains Dan.

But both Scott and Dan realize while this work is rewarding, it is challenging as well.

“I’ve seen a lot of hurt people,” says Dan as he continues to briefly tell a story about a man in Joplin who didn’t even know his house had been hit by the tornado until he saw The Salvation Army volunteers working on his broken home.

They have definitely seen it all. Dan also explains about a tree that had been picked up by a tornado and planted back down, smack dab in the middle of someone’s house.

“It looked like a flower pot!” says Dan with a hearty laugh.

There is nothing they can’t tackle as long as they are together.

“[The most challenging part of volunteering is] explaining to other people how to do a job other than just doing it yourself,” says Dan. “Others don’t have the sense of immediacy that [Scott and I] do.”

While it might be difficult to take a step back and let others join in when you are as talented as these two, Dan sums up the most rewarding part of volunteering for The Salvation Army in a few words.

“Getting away from yourself,” he says as Scott silently nods in approval with a solemn smile on his face.

In addition to being a volunteer maintenance man, Scott has been pursuing his Ph.D. and heading a research project to cure sepsis. Scott previously served in the Army for 34 years, starting in Vietnam and finishing in Afghanistan. He worked as a special forces medic for the last 31 years of his army career.

Since his army days, he has received a Masters degree in microbiology and a Masters degree in public health. Currently, he teaches graduate students at Washington University Medical School while working toward his Ph.D. and continuing his research. In the fall, he will begin teaching full time and will receive his Ph.D. in December.

“At his age, what else has he got to do?!”  Dan jokes with him.

All jokes aside, however, these men inspire people with their big actions and even bigger hearts.

“We’re the only two they have like us,” says Dan “We’re floaters.”

This couldn’t be a more true testimony, as these two are a one-of-a-kind pair. People might hesitate separating them if they want a job done right. They have been working together for only two-and-a-half years and they are already finishing each other’s sentences, helping each other remember details when recalling past projects and laughing about inside jokes.

It’s apparent they like their job best if they can work together. They work as a team to improve the shelters so the shelters can improve the lives of the homeless. Their impressive skill level allows them to be useful throughout The Salvation Army’s Midland Division.

To put it simply, they can truly go anywhere and do anything. These two absolutely love what they do and they are moved by God every day to fulfill His work.

Day of Unity Video – Joplin

One year ago this week, a tornado changed the lives of thousands in Joplin, and thousands more who gave of their time and heart to work toward rebuilding. It was a wonderful experience this week to take a break from the work and reflect on how far the community has come. We continue to be a driving force in the recovery there daily.

We hold this community in our hearts and prayers, and look forward to another year of even greater strides and impressive improvements.

A Reason to Hope: One Year after the Joplin Tornado

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

Every morning since the storm, Doug has gone out to sit on his old concrete porch, all that remains of his former home. “I don’t think I’ve missed a morning. It’s where I can be by myself, gather my thoughts, plan for my day,” he says.

Doug Keeney was uninsured and unemployed when the tornado struck. A construction worker in a down economy, he had long struggled to find reliable work.

Keeney lived in a house he planned to retire in. “It was an old house, but it was paid for,” he remarks. “It was surrounded by a dozen beautiful old trees that I just loved, but because of those trees, I was unable to get insurance for the home. We’d had two ice storms a few years previous and the insurance company required that I had to cut back all trees hanging over the house. At a cost of $300-$400 per tree, I just couldn’t afford to cut them back without a job.”

On May 22, when the sirens sounded, Keeney wasn’t unusually concerned.

“We always get weather alerts, and everybody just goes out on their front porch and looks. I saw there was a tornado north of my house and I wasn’t overly concerned,” recalls Keeney, “but I remembered the employees at the Arby’s near my home didn’t have a TV or radio and probably didn’t know to take cover. I walked across the street and told them to get in their cooler to take cover. They invited me to take cover with them and I told them I’d run home to get my wallet and keys and would return shortly.”

As Keeney arrived home, the wind increased to a dangerous pace and before he knew it, he was unable to take cover. Doug became pinned between his front door and the nearest wall, a lucky place it turned out, as very little else was left when the storm passed.

“When the storm was over, the second story on my home was gone, as was half of the story I was standing on. I dug around and found a few things I needed, then headed out to find my neighbors and friends. That’s when I saw the only thing that was left standing at Arby’s was the cooler where the employees had taken cover.”

Keeney brushes off the thought he might be a hero saying, “I think I just did what everyone else would have done.”

For the next three weeks, Doug came to his home every day to clear debris and find his belongings. “I dug through all of the debris and found every little thing I could. The volunteers were amazing. They helped a lot. They got down in there and dug with me and helped me move what I could.”

Since the storm, Keeney has worked closely with The Salvation Army case managers. “As far as I’m concerned, Dana and her team have really gone above and beyond. When I needed work clothes for my debris clean-up job, they were there. They’re working to help me get a vehicle, and thanks to her team, I’ve been connected with Convoy of Hope, and they are building me my new home.”

Every morning since the storm, Doug has gone out to sit on his old concrete porch, all that remains of his former home. “I don’t think I’ve missed a morning. It’s where I can be by myself, gather my thoughts, plan for my day,” he says.

Around the one-year anniversary, Keeney will move into his new home, built on the same lot.

“I’m gonna miss my trees,” he says a little wistfully, “but this has turned out to be such a blessing, none of which would have been possible without The Salvation Army.”

Joplin: One Year Later

The Crossleys stand on their newly poured foundation, anticipating the day when they can move into their new home.

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

Nearly one year after a historic tornado destroyed more than 7,500 homes and 500 businesses, Joplin residents are still finding their way back to normal.

“The mess has been cleaned up,” says David Crossley, manager of The Salvation Army’s homeless shelter in Joplin. “The debris is gone. You see rebuilding going on around town, and people are hopeful.”

Crossley, a 15-year employee of The Salvation Army lost his home when it was badly damaged in the storm. Emerging from a closet where they’d taken shelter, the Crossley family found their roof partially gone, their windows broken, live power lines on their car and no immediate hope for assistance. In the days following the storm, he and his family slept at The Salvation Army Community and Worship Center, at friends’ houses and at a motel.

Today, thanks to the aid of The Salvation Army, his church, family members and friends, Crossley and his family are hopeful their lives will return back to normal.

“We just poured the foundation on a home we are building. We hope to move into it in early June,” he reports.

As Crossley reflects on the long year his family has endured, he is struck by the progress they’ve made. “I was just thinking the other day, our wedding anniversary is coming up and last year we were living in a motel room with no idea where we were going to wind up. Now, we’re living in a comfortable duplex and building a home of our own. In just one year, we’ve lost nearly everything we had, and now we’re almost whole again.”

Just two months after the epic storm, Lieutenants James and Jamie Curry became officers in Joplin. Lieutenant Jamie reflects on life in her new hometown, “Any other place I have ever lived, I’ve never had the experience of stepping out my front door and seeing something different than the day before. Almost an entire year has passed since the tornado, but it still seems like last week to the residents here. While there are significant changes to the landscape as buildings are rebuilt, the emotional toll is still ever present.”

The Currys and their team have been hard at work as part of the Long Term Recovery Committee, a consortium of nonprofits and service agencies working to handle long-term survivor case management. “We have the benefit of seeing first hand how God can work, even in a disaster. There are success stories that come through our doors each day, and when these individuals get helped, it renews their desire to help others.”

Residents of Joplin rebuilding after the storm.

Crossley says that in some ways that storm has been a blessing. “It brought my family closer, and I think it brought many of us in the community closer. Whenever we had a need, The Salvation Army or one of its partners was there to meet it. God’s love has been manifested in so many ways in these days of recovery, and I am so grateful.”

Lt. Curry observes, “There is a greater sense of community among the people of Joplin. As is the case in many catastrophic events, everyone is affected in one form or another which creates in itself a genuine sense of comradeship. Joplin is no different.”

Dana Ross, Case Manager for The Salvation Army Joplin Relief Center, says “We have formed some amazing partnerships. We are one of the primary social service providers for this event, and through these partnerships we can connect our clients with just about anything they need.”

The Salvation Army was recently awarded a contract with Missouri that will allow it to continue long-term case management with residents through May 2013. In the coming weeks, long-term plans will be released detailing The Salvation Army’s strategy for long-term recovery and investment in Joplin.

Hope grows in the shadows

By: Danni Eickenhorst

The Joplin Memorial and newly constructed Cunningham Park are prepared for Joplin’s anniversary events and Day of Unity, in the shadow of the remains of St. John’s hospital.

Today, I arrived in Joplin at a pivotal point in both the city’s and my own healing process following the Joplin tornado, an event that radically changed the lives of thousands in the span of 32 minutes.

I haven’t been in Joplin, minus a very short trip recently, and really toured the damage since August, when I worked on a film for The Salvation Army. On my last trip of any length here, the town had not yet officially begun it’s rebuilding process, as they were only then issuing building permits – but save for a few renegade or priority projects, the landscape was still rather barren, and still dotted with prominent signs of destruction.

Tomorrow, the City of Joplin is hosting a Day of Unity event, and I encourage all those who have a tie to the work in Joplin to attend. Residents, first responders, volunteers alike will stand to benefit from seeing this town in a better state, and the hope that is beginning to grow in the shadows of the bits of destruction that still stand.

Starting at 2:00 p.m., we will depart 20th & Duquesne and walk the path of the tornado, finally ending our journey at 5:15 at Cunningham Park for festivities and an official remembrance at 5:41 p.m., the time the tornado struck last year, changing everything.

As every good reporter does, I previewed my path in advance today and ended my drive at Cunningham Park. I won’t lie and say that things are just as they were before the storm. In fact, I don’t know what Joplin was like before the storm firsthand, though I’ve heard many times of the beautiful tree-lined streets.

The town is still very sparse and there are still many signs of destruction, but there is also a real tangible hope in these people and in this town. Businesses are starting to rebuild and it appears that people have not abandoned this community as we once feared.

On the eve of tomorrow’s events, those that did leave town are returning to make their peace. I sat at the memorial constructed at Cunningham Park, in the shadows of St. John’s Hospital, which still stands in much the same condition I first found it.Sitting there in the park, I watched people trickle in, say prayers and consider what the day meant to them.

In the year since I first arrived in this town, The Salvation Army and other organizations have united to do such good for this community, and it’s with excitement that I await tomorrow’s events. It’s with an eye to the future and a heart for celebrating the many impossible odds they’ve overcome that the City of Joplin will recognize this day.

Tonight, I heard President Obama and Governor Jay Nixon speak at the Joplin High School Commencement Ceremony, and there I heard speaker after speaker share stories of tragedy and triumph.

Governor Nixon said, “Every day the sun sets on a new Joplin, and rises on a better place,” and this, above all the many inspiring speeches heard tonight best embodied what I see in this town. President Obama said, “Some of the bonds that are strongest in life are the ones we forget when all around us seems to be broken.”

I look forward to tomorrow – to the ceremonies of celebration and triumph in the shadows of the ruins of St. John’s hospital, and the good things to come for this great town.

EDS Alert: Salvation Army Work in Branson Continues

The Salvation Army continues to provided needed assistance to those in the Branson area that were affected by Wednesday’s damaging storms.

A Salvation Army mobile feeding unit, or canteen, is currently stationed outside the Branson Mall and providing food, water and snacks to anyone in need. Emotional and spiritual counseling is also available. This canteen will remain at the Branson Mall until approximately 4:30 p.m. and then begin traveling throughout the Branson area providing services.

Currently, trained Emergency Disaster Service volunteers are at the Branson Corps preparing tonight’s evening meal that will be distributed on the canteen. They are preparing enough meals to feed approximately 200-250 people. However, Incident Commander, Major Robert Meyer, said The Salvation Army is capable of preparing and serving many more meals if necessary. In fact, this particular canteen is capable of preparing and serving 150 meals an hour if need be.

Tonight The Salvation Army plans to first provide canteen service to the residential areas near the Branson Corps, which were among some of the area’s hardest hit. Then the canteen will travel in a counterclockwise pattern around Branson beginning near Highways 76 and 65 delivering service directly to individuals.

So far, The Salvation Army has provided assistance to nearly 400 individuals and will continue to provide assistance for as long as there is a need.

How to Help:
Monetary donations are the most critically needed resource, as supplies and personnel are mobilized.

Help provide immediate assistance by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by visiting http://www.STLSalvationArmy.org to make a secured credit card donation. Please mail checks to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 21787 St. Louis MO 63109 – designate your gift by writing “Storm Relief” on the check. Mobile and Smartphone users can text the word ARCH to 80888 to make an instant $10 donation.

Please remember that due to the high expense and amount of time associated with delivering in-kind gifts, such as gently-used household items and clothing, The Salvation Army cannot guarantee at this time that any individual donated gifts-in-kind will be sent to the disaster area. During times of disaster, The Salvation Army is able to meet the need for these items from its thrift store’s existing, pre-sorted stock. Therefore, by continuing to donate gently-used household goods to your local Salvation Army thrift store, you not only help your local community, you help The Salvation Army prepare for future disaster relief needs. To locate your nearest Salvation Army drop-off location, please visit http://www.satruck.org.

About The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination since 1865. 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. About 82 cents of every dollar raised is used to support those services in nearly 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to http://www.salvationarmyusa.org.

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Salvation Army work continues as Branson, Harrisburg Brace for Friday’s Storms

The Salvation Army continues to provide much-needed assistance to those in Branson, Missouri and Harrisburg, Illinois in response to Wednesday’s tornadoes damaging storms, standing ever-vigilant with those communities in the face of Friday’s storms.

Branson

As the Branson-area disaster relief efforts progress and change, so too does The Salvation Army’s response in meeting the immediate needs of the community.  Currently, The Salvation Army is focused primarily on providing food, water and spiritual care from the mobile feeding units, or canteens.

Crews from Joplin and Springfield handled preparation and delivery of meals as part of a coordinated effort with the local chapter of The American Red Cross to meet local needs.

On Thursday, the Salvation Army served 364 meals, 502 drinks and 679 snacks in the Branson area. At this time, additional volunteers for The Salvation Amy’s Branson-area relief efforts are not needed. However, it’s likely that many volunteers will be needed in the coming days to assist with clean-up at the Branson Corps.

Harrisburg

Work continues on the ground in Harrisburg, IL with Captain Heath Sells as the Incident Commander in this relief effort. On Thursday 506 survivors, first responders and volunteers were served with 763 drinks, 405 meals and 302 snacks.

Divisional Commander Major Lonneal Richardson visited Harrisburg on Thursday, meeting with survivors to pray and provide them with grocery vouchers and other forms of assistance.

The Salvation Army in Harrisburg continues to coordinate with other relief agencies and government entities to ensure the most necessary needs are met.

Continued emergency relief efforts are expected in that area for several more days, with long term case management to follow

How You Can Help

Help provide immediate help by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by visiting http://www.STLSalvationArmy.org to make a secured donation by credit card. Please mail checks to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 21787 St. Louis MO 63109 – designate your gift by writing “Storm Relief” on the check. Mobile and Smartphone users can text the word ARCH to 80888 to make an instant $10 donation

Please remember that due to the high expense and amount of time often associated with delivering in-kind gifts, such as gently-used household items and clothing, The Salvation Army cannot guarantee at this time that any individual donated gifts-in-kind will be sent to the disaster area. During times of disaster, The Salvation Army is able to meet the need for these items from the store’s existing, pre-sorted stock. Therefore, by continuing to donate gently-used household goods to your local Salvation Army thrift store, you not only help your local community, you help us prepare for future disaster relief needs. To locate your nearest Salvation Army drop-off location, please visit http://www.satruck.org.

Leap Day Storm Relief Continues

The Salvation Army canteen was on the move prior to sunrise in Harrisburg, Illinois Thursday morning.

In the wake of the Leap Day storms that tore through Kansas, Missouri and Illinois Tuesday and Wednesday, Salvation Army disaster crews responded swiftly to aid first responders and survivors in affected areas.

Crews in Branson focused primarily on meeting immediate needs of those most heavily damaged areas of Branson, along Highway 76. A canteen crew provided snacks, drinks and meals to survivors, first responders and clean-up crews. A Salvation Army canteen is presently feeding those affected at the Branson Mall parking lot. Branson’s Mayor Presley visited the canteen and publicly thanked The Salvation Army for their response in the wake of the storms on her Twitter page.

In Harrisburg, Illinois, approximately 100 homes – about forty percent of the city – were affected, and there were six confirmed fatalities. The Salvation Army was at work as quickly as possible in this remote area, and served hot meals at the Walmart on South Commercial Road, to first responders and those affected. Food was provided by a local school where it had already been prepared for the school day. The canteen was back in action at sunrise on Thursday morning.

The city of Harrisburg has requested that The Salvation Army take charge of feeding those displaced by the storm and first responders, while the American Red Cross provides shelter.

Additional efforts are being undertaken in Kimberling City, Missouri, which is dealing with a water crisis after their water distribution tower sustained significant damage.

For the latest, visit www.stlsalvationarmy.org, or follow us on Twitter!

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