One month later

Jun 19, 2019 | by Doug Donahoo

Learn more about our work with Emergency & Disaster.

As tornado sirens blared across the Kansas City area on May 28th, residents took shelter and turned on TVs to watch the fast-moving line of storms as it sped its way towards rural and urban neighborhoods alike. Watching along with everyone else was Auxiliary Captain Brett Dietrich who commands The Salvation Army community center in Leavenworth, Kan.

Meteorologists around the dial warned a continually updated list of communities as the storms worked from west to east. Suddenly, after the storm hit neighborhoods on the southeast side Lawrence came the name Linwood. And, Dietrich suddenly realized the storm was hitting home.

“I’m thinking, ‘That’s in Leavenworth county. We’re going to have to figure out how we’re going to get down there and help people,’” Dietrich remembered two weeks after the massive, rain-wrapped twister tore through the community of 375 people.

In its wake, hundreds of homes were damaged, many completely destroyed and a small rural community was left reeling. Though, despite the destruction, not a single life was lost.

When the time came to start the recovery process, Captain Dietrich was there.

“I think it’s been a challenge down here in Linwood, since it’s such a small place and they’ve never had anything like this happen before,” Dietrich said.

Though, in fairness, it’s the first major disaster Dietrich has worked, too. He’s jumped in with both feet to lend a hand to anyone in need.

“While I wish this disaster had never happened, there’s no place I’d rather be than here helping these folks. We never know when it’s going to be us the next time. So, helping lay this foundation for them this time, may help them help someone else next time.”

On June 13th, Captain Dietrich along with a team from The Salvation Army’s Social Services Department set up shop at the Linwood community center to provide further help to people and families who were just starting to understand the damage the storm had caused.

Joyce Schau, the Divisional Director of Social Services, was one of the many on hand to start the process known as “Recovery.”

“It’s really intended for us to be able to get people some of those necessities they lost in the tornado. Toothbrush, clothing, coffee, if they have to have their coffee. Just the little things to get them through the big things that are coming up,” Schau said.

The big things will be about getting homes repaired and rebuilt. Some Linwood residents are still in temporary housing and facing an extended period of time before they can return home.

“We’ve heard this can be six months to a year process, so we start now until people get back into their homes,” Schau said.

That’s The Salvation Army’s promise: to be there through the entire process; from just after the storm hits until people feel their lives have been restored to before the disaster hit.

It’s your support that makes that promise a reality. Both Dietrich and Schau spoke of the reality of watching people walk into the community center. In need of help, while knowing their neighbors are suffering just as much, if not more.

“You have to always keep in mind, people downplay their own trauma, there’s someone else who has it worse,” Schau recounted ruefully. “So, we tell them it’s okay to need help and it’s okay to struggle for a little bit and to let other people help them.”

By donating today to The Salvation Army’s Disaster Relief fund, you’ll help people living in Linwood, Lawrence, and other communities affected by the spring storms and flooding will be able to get the little things they need today. And, be ready for the next big steps tomorrow.

Captain Dietrich knows the spirit of generosity in the Kansas and Western Missouri Division. “To me that’s the heart of who we are, we’re willing to help those who need help regardless of what we know about them. That’s part of the Christian value, saying you have a need, how do we fill it?”

Help fill those needs today by donating here.

Learn more about our work with Emergency & Disaster.

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