God’s Plan: Providing Hope after Hurricane Florence
When Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina, all of the area Emergency Disaster Services were deployed to the hardest hit areas. They provide food, hydration, hygiene kits, flood kits, and so much more. The Salvation Army also provides emotional and spiritual support for those in need. During Florence alone, 22,775 individuals received love and support from our volunteers.
On Monday, September 24, 2018, The Salvation Army of Milwaukee County deployed two chaplains from the only Salvation Army Chaplaincy Program in the United States. Marcine and Carol deployed to North Carolina. This wasn’t Marcine’s first experience participating in disaster work, she also assisted in Texas when Hurricane Harvey hit over a year ago. You are invited to read about Marcine’s experience below.
Q. What was the conditions of the area you were in?
A. We were in Burgaw (Pender County) which was the hardest hit. Besides being very hot and with mosquitos the size of Chihuahuas, it was a nice little town. There was a lot of tree damage and heavy flooding, with some houses still under water when we left.
Q. What was your main role while in North Carolina?
A. Our main role is to do whatever we can to help the people both mentally, physically, and spiritually. There’s a lot of sadness and despair. Some have lost everything again having gone through it once before. But there’s also a lot of hope. We instilled and reinforced that hope in them whenever we could. I made calls and inquired about a foster home for a man's dog so he could go into a shelter. I cried with and for him as I had so much empathy for him. We did what was needed whether it was serving a meal, finding supplies, or just hugging and praying with someone.
Q. Where were you in North Carolina?
A. We were in Wilmington, NC which is right on the coast. We went as far out as about 15 miles from South Carolina. We went where needed.
Q. What was your typical day like?
A. There really is no typical day when doing hurricane relief. We get up very early, get ready go to the Incident Command location, get our assignments, discuss what has to be discussed (such as needs, etc.), and then we went to pick up our food and supplies for the day. Carol and I both loaded the trucks and our cars with as many supplies as we could squeeze in. Sometimes 30 to 50 cleaning buckets, food boxes, cases and cases of water, hygiene packets-- whatever we could fit. We then went to our designated areas and did what we could to help. Our day ended anytime from 5 to 8 at night. We then returned to our room, showered, and relaxed a little before falling asleep. It was always a day well spent.
Q. How many people do you think you helped on a daily basis?
A. On a daily basis, we served anywhere from 500 to 1500 meals. Some people came to just get supplies, though, not food. One of our stops was at a church where we helped the church people pass out their supplies while feeding the people etc. When we served the meals whether it be 500 or 1500 there was only three of us. Two canteen workers and one of us. They put the food in the clamshell and we served and have out the extras. It all came down to teamwork and we became experts at it!!
Q. What did you see was the greatest need?
A. The greatest need was probably reassurance that things would be ok, that they weren’t alone and that people are there to help. A nice meal was most welcome but it was that comradery that was important.
Q. Who did you work with closely with down there?
A. We worked closely with each other and our respective “canteen” crews.
Q. How long was your deployment?
A. A usual deployment is 14 days, but we were down there 8. The need for feeding was completed and the canteens were finished, so we left with them.
Q. Can you share your most memorable moments during your deployment?
A. To me, being deployed is always a memorable experience. I walk away with a lot and I leave a lot of me there. I still have a relationship with people from Hurricane Harvey that I cherish. To me, being deployed is an honor and a spiritual and emotional “high.” I guess it’s kind of hard to explain, as sometimes I don’t even understand it. It’s a fulfilling experience. I love doing it. It’s like therapy for me. I work very hard but come back refreshed, knowing I helped people. The whole deployment is memorable and I take so much away with it and hopefully leave a lot there in my words actions and caring.
Q. How did you find out you were being deployed to North Carolina?
A. When I had heard that there was a hurricane heading towards the east coast, and its magnitude, I immediately contacted Pastor Alexis, The Salvation Army of Milwaukee County Chaplaincy Program Coordinator, and volunteered to go before the call had even gone out.
Q. Is there anything you'd like to add?
A. Any type of disaster is bad, devastating, horrific, emotional and physically draining. I feel that the Good Lord has a plan for all of us and this is just a small minute part of my plan.
The Salvation Army Chaplaincy Program is a partnership between The Salvation Army Milwaukee County and the Milwaukee Police Department. Our 64 chaplains represent 16 denominations from 50 different churches. They provide emotional and spiritual support in times of tragedy in Milwaukee County and deploy with Emergency Disaster Services when needed.
The Salvation Army began offering assistance to disaster survivors after a major hurricane hit Galveston, TX in September 1900, destroying the coastal city and killing thousands of people. Since then, The Salvation Army has responded to numerous natural disasters, transportation accidents, civil unrest situations, and terrorist attacks. By providing beverages, meals, and emotional and spiritual care to first responders and survivors, The Salvation Army strives to bring hope and healing to people who find themselves in the midst of extremely difficult situations.