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Many first responders say that The Salvation Army is the first to have boots on the ground and the last to leave when disaster strikes.
This is because we're already present in most communities. Our staff and volunteers are part of that community, working for weeks, months or even years to help their neighbors until the scars of destruction are covered with hope and renewal. Our disaster services teams also respond year-round to local emergencies - like house fires - serving survivors and first responders.
As one of the nation's major emergency relief organizations, The Salvation Army recognizes the critical importance of being prepared for natural and man-made disasters. Therefore, we work to educate other disaster professionals and the public at large about how to prepare for and respond to emergency situations, while also taking steps to ensure our own ability to respond quickly and efficiently.
Our emergency response services are activated on short notice, based on notification from federal, state and local governments. Typically, Salvation Army personnel and resources will congregate at predetermined staging areas, entering the impacted area as soon as government first-responders have indicated that it is safe and constructive to do so. These immediate response activities include food and hydration services, shelter, cleanup and emergency communication assistance to put victims in touch with their loved ones.
We work closely with other disaster relief organizations and government agencies to maximize our impact and avoid duplicating services. We are also an active member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD) and work with state and Federal agencies to provide assistance.
Depending on the magnitude of the disaster, The Salvation Army may continue providing immediate response services such as emergency shelter and food service well into the recovery process. Additionally, we often coordinate with government entities to develop long-term disaster recovery plans. These activities include restoration and rebuilding initiatives, disaster social services to address basic needs, medical expenses, or funeral costs, and in-kind donation distribution to disaster victims.
During a major disaster, time is of the essence in letting families know their loved ones are safe. We locate survivors and provide information to their family and friends through our Salvation Army Team Emergency Response Network (SATERN).
In the aftermath of a major disaster, The Salvation Army provides spiritual comfort and emotional support upon request to victims and emergency workers coping with the stress of a catastrophe. Salvation Army counselors, often our ordained pastors, offer a "ministry of presence" where they are available to talk. Individuals can request prayer or guidance from the Bible. As is true with all Salvation Army Services, disaster relief and recovery services are provided to all in need without discrimination.
Our mobile kitchens travel the streets to provide hot meals to survivors and relief workers. We also set up meal stations near busy work sites or in community buildings where neighbors and volunteers gather for support.
In major disasters, we set up hubs that provide shelter, meals and counseling, often working with other agencies. When the best option is a short-term hotel stay, we cover the bill.
In major disasters, we can coordinate or assist with cleanup and reconstruction. We have troops of volunteers to enlist for large projects like this. We also provide hundreds of thousands of clean-up kits to disaster survivors annually so they are able to get started on the road to recovery.
We know it won’t undo what’s been lost, but we can offer financial help as a step toward a brighter future. We have short-term grants for medicine, groceries and other pressing needs. When the road back to normal is a bit longer, we partner with other agencies to give you long-term financial help. You never have to worry about repaying anything we give.
We recruit, train and deploy disaster volunteers, sometimes by the thousands. We also help coordinate community volunteers during large-scale efforts.