Tampa, FL (November 13, 2018) – Four weeks after Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle, The Salvation Army continues its service to communities impacted by the storm. There is a new normal in many communities. Families are coming home to places they can no longer live. The pre-existing financial struggles of households are compounded by the hurricane. The need for safe, sanitary, affordable housing is greater than ever as many families lost their homes and have to rebuild. Salvation Army officers and staff are at work with community partners to help ease the burdens of the people who are in the most need.

Power is restored in most areas where the infrastructure allows, which means grocery stores are opening and households can now cook and keep food cold. Salvation Army mass feeding has concluded in the Apalachicola and Tallahassee service areas, but local Salvation Army is still at work, helping as it was before Hurricane Michael.

The Panama City service area of Bay County was the hardest hit. Service there continues and today, 23 mobile feeding units and emotional and spiritual care teams are at work in the area , assessing the needs of the communities as they provide hope and prayer. In some instances the hope they give is through a laugh or a bottle of water; other times the care is a prayer, a Bible, and a shoulder to lean on as folks come back to their destroyed communities and homes.

“We are not just a bottle of cold water or a warm meal. We provide spiritual support and prayer for people whose lives are changed by disaster,” said Steven Hartsook, emergency disaster services director of The Salvation Army of Florida. “We are here to serve in the name of Jesus Christ and will be here as long as we are needed.”

At the peak of service, 45 mobile feeding units and teams from the Southern Territory and leadership teams from across the nation and Canada were serving the areas devastated by the hurricane. To date, The Salvation Army has served:

  • Meals: 657,655
  • Drinks: 323,451
  • Snacks: 458,585
  • Hygiene Kits: 16,053
  • Food Boxes: 12,007
  • Tarps: 9,667
  • Clean-up Kits: 3,774
  • 42,473 emotional and spiritual care contacts with hurricane survivors
  • Salvation Army officers, employees, and volunteers have provided 63,811 hours of disaster service.

Disaster strikes rural towns and big cities, the young, the old, the rich, the poor, and in-between. The Salvation Army is on the ground, serving in the name of Jesus Christ without discrimination.

In the weeks, months, and years ahead we will still be there serving those who need us the most. We can do this because you support us.

How You Can Help

  • 100-percent of designated gifts will be used in support of those affected by Hurricane Michael.
  • Response efforts to this hurricane and flooding are expected to be costly and last for years. The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation.
  • Donate by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
  • Donate by mail: The Salvation Army, PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA (Please designate ‘2018 Hurricanes – Michael’ on all checks.)
  • Donate online: www.HelpSalvationArmy.org
  • Donate by text: Text STORM to 51555 to receive a donation link for easy mobile giving

Tallahassee, FL – (October 24, 2018) “I get to see what I used to look like, what I can be like, and what I want to be like, all in the same place,” said ARC graduate and canteen crew member, Clint Bross. After earning a second chance at life through The Salvation Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), Clint is now serving on the frontlines of The Salvation’s Army’s disaster relief operation in Tallahassee, FL.

After serving his country in the U.S. Airforce, Clint struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for several years. By 2011, Clint entered The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Fort Lauderdale, where he not only started living a life of sobriety, but also revived his relationship with God. “I did [other sobriety fellowship programs] but you can only hear so many horror stories. I don’t want to hear horror stories. I wanted to hear positive stories and that’s what the Bible is all about. I started reading it every day at the ARC,” said Clint.

Upon completing the program, Clint became a truck driver for The Salvation Army of Fort Lauderdale, where he gets to transport the very donations that supports the rehabilitation program he graduated from.

Clint has previously served on The Salvation Army’s disaster relief teams for Fort Myers, FL and Puerto Rico. On his second day of providing emergency services for families affected by Hurricane

Michael, Clint simultaneously celebrated his seven-year sobriety anniversary.

“I celebrated seven years of sobriety by giving back and that’s awesome. I went from drinking and smoking to standing here, handing out plates…smiling, and giving hope to other people,” said Clint.

In Tallahassee, Clint is currently serving alongside his crew member T.J. Recchione, who also graduated from The Salvation Army’s ARC program in Fort Lauderdale, just two days ago. “It feels great to be able to help people. It feels great to see the gratitude from these people that have that lost so much,” said T.J.

From adult rehabilitation programs to disaster relief services, The Salvation Army is committed to meeting the greatest need.

To help support the disaster relief work of The Salvation Army, donations can be made at www.helpsalvationarmy.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, by texting STORM to 51555, or by check (designated “2018 Hurricane Season – Michael”) mailed to PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301.

Hurricane Michael Service Update

Hurricane Michael Service UpdateTallahassee, FL (November 7, 2018) –The Salvation Army continues its efforts to meet the needs of the Florida Panhandle almost four weeks following Hurricane Michael. Today 43 mobile feeding units with crews of food service workers and emotional and spiritual care specialists are working to feed, hydrate, and give hope to people impacted by Hurricane Michael. The Salvation Army is also distributing hygiene kits, MRE’s (meals ready-to-eat), food boxes, cleaning supplies and tarps.

Life is returning to a new normal in communities in the Florida Panhandle. Power is restored in most areas where the infrastructure allows. Power restoration means that grocery stores are opening and households can now cook and keep food cold. In those areas, the number of fixed feeding locations is decreasing and mobile feeding units are roving through the area looking for neighborhoods and communities who still need support.

Yesterday in Panama City, The Salvation Army distributed 51 pallets of supplies in the community and served more than 11,000 meals to disaster survivors. The Salvation Army has served more than 599,400 meals to storm survivors across the Panhandle since October 11.

Total Stats as of November 7, 2018

  • Meals: 599,421
  • Drinks: 294,285
  • Snacks: 409,576
  • Hygiene Kits: 12,183
  • Food Boxes: 7,929
  • Tarps: 7,164
  • Clean-up Kits: 2,957
  • 38,474 emotional and spiritual care contacts with hurricane survivors

How People Can Help

  • 100-percent of designated gifts will be used in support of those affected by Hurricane Michael.
  • Response efforts to this hurricane and flooding are expected to be costly and last for years. The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation.
  • Donate by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
  • Donate by mail: The Salvation Army, PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA (Please designate ‘2018 Hurricanes – Michael’ on all checks.)
  • Donate online: www.HelpSalvationArmy.org
  • Donate by text: Text STORM to 51555 to receive a donation link for easy mobile giving

Panama City, FL (November 5, 2018) – It was a pause. It was encouraging. On Sunday, November 4, three services were held at various locations throughout the day in Panama City to help maintain the emotional and spiritual health of volunteers and other Salvation Army personnel, even in the midst of providing services and support to those affected by Hurricane Michael.

“At the request of FEMA, The Salvation Army was pleased and grateful to offer interdenominational church services (in conjunction with the Red Cross chaplain) that were well-received for the more than 100 people who attended,” says Major Roxzena Hayden, Emotional and Spiritual Care Specialist.

Hayden is a member of a Canadian Salvation Army Incident Management Team (IMT) that is currently supporting operations in the Florida Panhandle.

Maintaining the emotional and spiritual health of our volunteers and other personnel is critical,” says Hayden. “When volunteers give and give they can easily get exhausted. And when you are tired you can’t provide the support that others need. Our church service was one way we could help people clear their thoughts and reduce stress levels.”

Karen, a volunteer chaplain, was thankful to have the time to recharge.

“I’ve been accompanying one of our canteens for the past seven days,” says Karen. “I will be here for two weeks. My role is to provide emotional and spiritual support to people who are accessing our services. The stories I am hearing and the devastation I’ve seen are heartbreaking. Sometimes listening and talking draws on my energy. Church and God are a great way to refuel.”

Panama City, FL (November 2, 2018)  As the days turn into weeks since Hurricane Michael hit Panama City, The Salvation Army remains steadfast in its efforts to provide comfort and hope.  Crews on Salvation Army canteens (mobile feeding units) head out across the city each day to provide hot meals to thousands of survivors, as well as distribute food boxes, hygiene kits, cleaning supplies and tarps.

“This is the worst hurricane I’ve ever seen,” said Fred Pentz of Kerrville, Texas, who has been a volunteer with The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services since 2007.  “I was at Harvey last year. Harvey was tough.  This is ugly,” he added.

The ugly, widespread damage may take months or even years to repair and rebuild. The spirits of the hurricane survivors are starting to lift, though, and they are expressing their gratitude to Salvation Army volunteers in special ways.

“It makes me proud of what we do,” said Fred. “It makes it great.”

Fred and his fellow canteen worker took their canteen for an oil change a few days earlier. When they went to settle the bill, the manager told him an employee named Nathan was going to pay for it himself. Fred was speechless.

“Nathan said, ‘I just got power and water back to my house. We’ve been out since the hurricane, three weeks, and my wife and kids have been eating with The Salvation Army every day. I just felt like God was telling me to do that,’” Fred recalled. “He felt like he needed to pay it back.”

Mitzi Johnson and Carol McKernan had been pulling 12 hour days for almost two weeks, when 7-year old Lillian stopped by their canteen on St. Andrews Boulevard in Panama City.

“She gave cards to every one of us who were working out there that day,” said Mitzi. “I was in tears. I didn’t read it right away. I read it when my day was over. It just encouraged me to keep on and keep doing and serving for the people that have lost everything here.”

Together with each card was a wooden cross Christmas ornament.

“If I remember right, their home was spared and she just wanted to show thanks to all of the people who came down,” said Carol. “For them to be in the situation they’re in and they want to give back and give to the people who are helping. It’s incredible. She’s an amazing young lady.”

Dan Hager of Lake Worth, Florida was working on a canteen this week, when he too received a card from a hurricane survivor.  Inside was written:

Thanks to all of you, those here now and those that have gone home and to those that will still come. Your prayers, giving of self and time, encouragement, smiles mean so much. Also my husband and I are so grateful for the food provided and love felt.

“It just hits your heart in a way, to know we are truly blessed. Not only as individuals but as an Army,” Dan shared.

“Even after all they’ve been through, they took time to do this,” said Mitzi. “To me, that means so much.”

Panama City, FL (November 1, 2018) – A Salvation Army truck towing a trailer with food boxes slowly weaved its way through Sandy Creek, a rural community on the outskirts of Panama City. Hurricane Michael’s destructive force left no home untouched here. Some are beyond salvageable.

“It’s very sad,” said Stan Carr, a Salvation Army volunteer from New Jersey. “I’m grateful I’m in the position to help them even in the smallest way.”

As the electricity has been restored across the area, the need for hot meals has decreased, but food boxes from the Midwest Food Bank are in high demand. The Salvation Army has distributed more than 10,000 food boxes to hurricane survivors since October 11, a number that continues to grow each day.

“Maybe all of the food in their house was destroyed, stores are depleted,” Stan explained. “So we’re going to give them a few days’ worth of meals until the stores get stocked and they can get back on their feet a little.”

The power came back to this neighborhood a few days ago. Mary Carr (no relation to Stan,) her husband, daughter and three grandsons rode out the storm at a church a few miles away. They are among the families who are able to continue living in their home, which she says miraculously sustained only cosmetic damage.

“It changes your life,” Mary said as she looked at the debris that lined Country Club Drive.

Mary is grateful for The Salvation Army’s support providing hot meals while they coped with no power for nearly three weeks. On this day she was able to get a few food boxes to tide them over at home.

“You’ve been absolutely wonderful,” said Mary.

Stan, together with his fellow Salvation Army volunteers Jim Wilson and Angela Cano, went door to door until all 180 food boxes were gone. It’s clear that the road to recovery in Sandy Creek will be long and arduous, but The Salvation Army remains committed to helping this community heal and rebuild.

“We’re here to hold their hand and we tell them, ‘there’s going to be brighter days,’” Stan said. “It’s also our presence, knowing Someone is there for them and someone is on their side. It hurts to see people in so much pain. And that’s what drives me to come from New Jersey and help in any way I can.

Panama City, FL (October 31, 2018) – The Salvation Army of Panama City and Bill Cramer Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC partnered for a special community celebration on Halloween to give local families a reprieve from the stress they’ve endured in the weeks following Hurricane Michael.

“Hurricane Michael destroyed homes. It destroyed businesses. But one thing it did not destroy is the caring spirit of this community,” said Major Otis Childs, Corps Officer, The Salvation Army of Panama City. “That kind of spirit is what created this event today.”

The free event, which took place at the car dealership, featured a cook-out, trick-or-treating, and giveaways such as backpacks, school supplies, food boxes, tarps and hygiene kits.  Therapy dogs with Therapy Dogs International were on site to provide some hope and comfort to hurricane survivors.

“Let’s come together in the community – neighbor helping neighbor,” said Bill Cramer, Owner of Bill Cramer Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC.

Hundreds of families flocked to the party on Wednesday.  The little ones, decked out in creative and fun costumes, stocked up on Halloween candy, notebooks and crayons at a Salvation Army canteen (mobile feeding unit) parked in the lot. Salvation Army staff and volunteers loaded up their parents’ cars with much-needed supplies.

“You guys are doing great work in the community,” said Danielle Pierce of Panama City. “I appreciate your work and for everybody rebuilding our community.”

Like many local families, Danielle was concerned about taking her daughter trick-or-treating because of the condition of their neighborhood.

“Honestly I don’t even know where I am at anymore,” Danielle explained, regarding the significant hurricane damage that still lingers across the community. “It’s like your bearings and landmarks are gone.”

Her home is still standing, but just about everyone she knows has suffered significant losses as a result of the storm. She was relieved to find a safe place for trick-or-treating, having seen it posted on Facebook. She left work early on Wednesday and brought her four-year old daughter, Savannah, dressed as Wonder Woman.

“I’m excited seeing love being spread so much – people helping people,” Danielle said.

Despite the all of property damage and so many heavy hearts in Panama City, families were able to find some happiness for an afternoon with help from The Salvation Army.

“The Salvation Army will continue to be present. We will continue to do what we need to do in order to help people move forward and they will. This community will be rebuilt,” Major Childs said.