May 18, 2011
Spain: The Salvation Army in Spain has stepped up its response to the earthquake that caused widespread destruction to the town of Lorca, Murcia, on 11 May. The team of seven people from Alicante Corps (Salvation Army church) which arrived in Lorca on 12 May was joined the next day by teams from Barcelona and Madrid Central Corps. The team from Barcelona took a van-load of food and clothing.
Lieutenant Luigi Muedas (corps officer, Alicante) was in the first team to reach Lorca, where contact was made with Corporal Ortiz, from the Spanish military, who was coordinating the relief effort.
The lieutenant says: "The city looked like there had been a war; there were fallen walls, military and firefighters everywhere. We have seen the faces of desolate people and a lot of tears."
Captain Cristóbal Alvarez has been designated as The Salvation Army's Command Headquarters Emergency Coordinator. She was part of another team that travelled to Lorca on Saturday 14 May to support the ongoing work.
Also on Saturday a smaller tremor hit the region, causing more damage. As a consequence, people are still afraid to enter their homes to pick up personal belongings. Government experts are working to assess the damaged buildings and put a mark on those which are uninhabitable.
The main need at this moment is for shelter, blankets and hot food. People have been receiving sandwiches for many days but Captain Jenniffer Beltrán (corps officer, Alicante, and wife of Lieutenant Muedas) was concerned that children in particular had not been receiving the nutrition they need. The Civil Coordinator for Emergency gave permission for The Salvation Army to distribute hot food in one of its tents and 400 families received soup, pasta and rice.
Personal hygiene items including toothbrushes, toothpaste, tissues and baby wipes, along with jars of baby food, were distributed on Sunday evening. This week The Salvation Army's thrift store in Mallorca is sending a load of clothing which volunteers will help to distribute.
Donations can be made online by click here.
Myanmar: The Salvation Army in Myanmar (sometimes known as Burma) is responding with emergency supplies after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the east of the country on Friday March 25th. Initial reports indicated that the earthquake had caused relatively little damage and that only two people were killed. As more contact is made with the affected area, however, it now appears that at least 70 and perhaps as many as 150 people lost their lives.
Lieut-Colonel Bob Lee, Chief Secretary for The Salvation Army's Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar Territory, says he has received word from the Salvation Army corps (church) in Thachileik, eastern Myanmar, that "there has been widespread damage to homes, property and even infrastructure such as roads."
Salvation Army officers in charge of the work in Thachileik are assessing the situation but Lieut-Colonel Lee reports: "We have not been able to make consistent contact via email or phone."
International Headquarters has made US$5,000 available, which will cover the initial costs of buying bottled drinking water, basic food, sleeping mats, and blankets.
A team of cadets and officers from the school for officer training in Yangon is being sent to Thachileik to help with the distribution and to offer spiritual and psychological support. Lieut-Colonel Lee says they "will be a valuable support and encouragement to the officers and also to the community there."
Makueni, east Kenya: The rains failed in October, November, and December 2010. The resultant drought and crop failures have left 2.6 million people in need of food aid. Following consultation with the Government Agriculture Office, The Salvation Army was asked to provide food to 388 families in an area that the government was struggling to assist. A Salvation Army team distributed a two week ration of maize, beans, and cooking oil to relieve distress at this difficult time. The most appropriate beneficiaries were chosen after discussions with community leaders and staff from local non-governmental organizations.
Christchurch, New Zealand: As part of its continuing support for earthquake-hit residents in Christchurch, The Salvation Army in New Zealand is distributing 4,000 'Care Cards', each loaded with NZ$500, to affected households. The project was developed in partnership with Westpac Bank.
The use of the Care Card is at the discretion of recipients, but can be put towards the cost of urgent house repairs or to purchase food, clothing or other goods, says Salvation Army Public Relations Secretary Major Robbie Ross. Cards are limited to one per household.
Payments and grants are available from a range of organizations but Salvation Army workers report high levels of earthquake-related unemployment and material hardship experienced by families as well as a substantial degree of anxiety about their futures.
Money for the Care Cards comes from The Salvation Army's Canterbury Earthquake Appeal, which as at 14 March stood at $9.36 million ($5.25 million banked, the remainder in collections and pledges).
The Salvation Army has also released a 'Take a Break' scheme aimed at giving individuals and families suffering significant emotional stress a break away from the city. Help with travel, accommodation and costs will be provided to eligible people.
Major Ross says the need for the scheme has become increasingly evident over the past week. 'While our people are seeing many examples of strong community spirit,' he points out, 'there is clear evidence that some residents in the hardest-hit suburbs are now nearing the end of their emotional endurance limits.'
The Salvation Army still has more than 100 care workers visiting the worst-affected suburbs to assess residents' emotional and material needs, with other personnel following up more complex cases and teams of volunteers delivering food, water, clothing and bedding to those who need them. Another team of volunteers has been providing support to the families of those still listed as missing. The bulk of reinforcement staff – from around the country and Australia – are operating in Monday to Friday shifts, with a smaller staff on weekend duty.
The Salvation Army's Linwood Centre is providing around 800 food parcels a day and other goods, as well as food, fuel and clothing vouchers.
Salvation Army community worker Brent Christoffersen was part of the second wave of reinforcement personnel deployed to Christchurch. He says:
'I was really blasé about the Christchurch earthquake at first. I did care, but there was other stuff going on for me. Then our church (Hutt City Salvation Army Corps in Wellington) held an urgent prayer meeting. I went home from that, watched TV and said to a mate, "Let's go, we have to do something!" I really wanted to get down there once I saw how bad it was.
'Most people were just so pleased to see The Salvation Army. I explained that we were doing brief assessments to find out what people needed and that other people with us would check that their houses were safe to live in. Some people would say, "We're fine," but others said, "It's so good to see you here – you're the first people to come around."
'I took bottles of water to a guy in a wheelchair who couldn't leave his house. I visited an old lady in her 70s, and there were blankets under her dining room table – that was where she was sleeping. Another old lady who was on oxygen was really scared in case her power stopped. I asked her neighbor to keep an eye on her. One lady said that every time a truck went by her house it was like another earthquake. Her nerves were shot.
'The welfare of people's heads and emotional state is going to be a key need now. A guy told me he'd seen a building with three workers on it, and when the earthquake happened, the building just exploded on them. They got out, but those memories are there for that guy and they won't ever go away. I think The Salvation Army needs to keep on caring, especially with counseling and support.
'We can't neglect our people and our communities. We're not the biggest country in the world, but we've got enough people to get down there and help.'
Donations to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal can be made online by clicking HERE!
Report by Major Christina Tyson
Canterbury, New Zealand: The Salvation Army's operations in earthquake-affected Canterbury, New Zealand, have shifted up a gear. On Wednesday 2 March Salvation Army emergency services volunteers provided 65 per cent more meals to evacuated residents than they had the previous day. Psychosocial support workers fielded their largest number of teams providing emotional support to residents in the hardest-hit suburbs. Particular assistance was given to people with needing urgent care or material support such as food and water.
With warehousing secured in the Christchurch suburb of Hornby, three specialist managers have been recruited to oversee the movement of bulk goods, heavy transport and accommodation, and to arrange travel for Salvation Army personnel. This development will allow a substantial scaling-up of operations needed for the longer term.
Meanwhile, The Salvation Army's Canterbury Earthquake Appeal reached NZ$6.2 million, up by $1.9 million over just 24 hours. Of this total, $1.6 million was raised through a $3 text initiative organized by Westpac Bank.
Psychosocial support personnel from Australia and around New Zealand are part of 'Suburban Squad' teams touring the worst-affected eastern suburbs of Christchurch, assessing residents' needs, property and infrastructure. The teams comprise staff and engineers from EQC (the New Zealand Government's Earthquake Commission) and Christchurch City Council, with 122 Salvation Army personnel providing emotional support to residents and identifying people who require additional support. These include elderly people living in isolation, those with chronic health conditions and others who are particularly stressed or anxious. Such cases were followed up by 'flying squads' of 12 Salvation Army officers, with a large team of volunteers delivering food, water and other goods to those in need.
Another 14 psychosocial support workers were based at welfare centers, providing care and support to people evacuated from their homes.
Psychosocial team coordinator Major Lynette Hutson says her teams are making an immense difference to people who, in many cases, had been cut off and were yet to receive outside help. One of the most touching cases seen by the teams was an 18-year-old who was caring for his wheelchair-bound mother and his two adult-aged, intellectually disabled brothers in a house without sewage or water. An emerging issue is the number of elderly people who are struggling to get by, often without water or sewage.
Salvation Army emergency services workers yesterday (2 March) served 4,710 meals to 1,570 people at welfare centers. This number included meals for 100 emergency workers hosted at The Salvation Army's community ministries centre in Linwood. During the day, Linwood Community Ministries delivered 382 food parcels to residents who were without transport and provided 212 food parcels to people arriving at the centre for help.
Report by Major Christina Tyson
New Zealand: The Salvation Army in New Zealand reports an escalation in welfare needs as a result of ongoing concerns for people affected by the devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit the region around Christchurch a week ago.
Relief agencies have expressed their appreciation for the manner in which Salvation Army officers (ministers) have approached people to defuse potentially difficult situations where they may be feeling upset or angry as a result of current circumstances.
Assisting in welfare centers at three sites and a drop-in center, The Salvation Army supplied some 4,500 meals to approximately 1,800 people in a single day. In addition, Salvationists provided food for the Tongan community and a group at Opawa Baptist Church and are now working with families to encourage them either to return home or to find other semi-permanent housing.
Overnight, a fresh influx of reinforcements from around the country means that there are now 90 people in The Salvation Army's psychosocial team. Twelve personnel from the two Salvation Army territories in Australia were scheduled to arrive on Monday 28 February.
Some 90 Salvation Army personnel are providing support as part of 10-man ‘suburban squads' that also comprise representatives from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission, engineers and Christchurch City Council. The Salvation Army team members provide emotional support to residents and identify material needs - requirements for food, water and medical supplies - as well as more complex issues such as anxiety, stress, getting to a doctor, or the concerns of elderly people living in isolation.
A further 12 people, assigned to ‘flying squads', can be brought in whenever there is a need for an intensive psychosocial response, either taking over from a person who is delayed or taking their place and moving on with the rest of the assessment team. This team made 79 visits yesterday (Monday 28 February).
Salvationists are also on hand to speak to the bereaved who attend police briefings on the missing and confirmed dead, working alongside other agencies such as Victim Support.
Friday 25 February was an extremely busy day for staff of The Salvation Army's community ministries. At Linwood Corps (church) Community Ministries, personnel carried out 490 interviews, with food parcels provided as required. Four hundred additional food parcels delivered by 60 drivers, including volunteers from other churches, were provided to those identified as in need. Although this was slightly less than the previous day, further demand was expected to be just as high, so 800 parcels were prepared in anticipation.
As with the 2010 earthquake, The Salvation Army is receiving excellent support from its partners at World Vision, whose staff are answering calls and staffing the Army's Christchurch headquarters at Sydenham and will provide additional call response resources at territorial headquarters in the coming week. A World Vision logistics expert is assisting in Christchurch, and a staff member with expertise in large-scale disasters is on hand at Linwood Community Ministries Centre.
Enquiries are being made to locate a larger distribution centre and more office space for several Salvation Army activities, and several corps in the South Island (particularly Nelson) are providing ‘meet and greet' support to families who have left Christchurch.
The hastily arranged ‘Track Meet 4 Christchurch' took place on Saturday 26 February at Wellington's Newtown Park. In an emotionally charged atmosphere, Nick Willis was presented with his Beijing Olympic silver medal - awarded as a result of the winner being disqualified - and then recorded a sub four-minute mile. Although spectator entry to the event was free, The Salvation Army collected donations for the Christchurch relief effort.
Report by Major Christina Tyson
Canterbury, New Zealand: The Salvation Army's earthquake response program in Canterbury, New Zealand, is under way. Salvation Army officers (ministers) and volunteers are feeding and caring for Canterbury residents displaced by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit the region around Christchurch on Tuesday 22 February. With large loss of life reported and many people still missing, sorrow continues to engulf the South Pacific nation.
Salvation Army teams from its three North Island divisions, along with teams from the South Island corps (churches) of Mosgiel and Queenstown, comprising 50 people, are on the way to Christchurch. Other teams across South Island are on standby.
Last night, the first since the earthquake struck, Salvation Army volunteers served 1,500 meals to those unable to go back to their homes and staff provided support at emergency welfare centers.
Damage to The Salvation Army's Southern Divisional Headquarters, as well as to Christchurch City Community Ministries Centre and Christchurch City Corps, means a temporary operations center to oversee recovery work has been set up at Sydenham Corps. Southern Division and territorial headquarters (THQ) staff are now assessing the situation across the affected area to determine the exact nature of the Army's response. With mobile communications in the region patchy at present, communications equipment including radios, satellite phones and computers is being transported from THQ to Sydenham.
Linwood Corps and Community Ministries, which has shouldered a large part of The Salvation Army's recovery work since the larger but less deadly September 2010 earthquake, suffered mainly superficial damage. Its officers, staff and volunteers are preparing for a steep increase in demand. Christchurch City Community Ministries Centre will not reopen in the immediate future due to quake damage and its staff are being redeployed to Linwood.
Major Campbell Roberts, who is coordinating The Salvation Army's emergency response, says the quake is a tragedy beyond description but that the Army's experience since September and the high morale of officers and volunteers puts it in good stead to respond effectively.
Salvation Army teams are at Wellington and Auckland airports to meet hundreds of people who have been evacuated from the quake zone and offer support and light refreshments.
The Salvation Army re-launched its Canterbury Earthquake Appeal yesterday. There has been a strong response from the public and from potential corporate donors. The Salvation Army's USA Western Territory is donating US$200,000 to assist with the Army's earthquake recovery efforts. The Australia Southern Territory is donating Aus$50,000.
Large and small-scale fundraising is being organized around New Zealand. An international track meet scheduled for Christchurch this weekend was cancelled after the quake. Athletes now plan to stage a fundraising meet in Wellington to support The Salvation Army's earthquake appeal.
The Salvation Army's international leader, General Shaw Clifton, was New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territorial Commander from 2002 to 2004. He informed current territorial commander Commissioner Don Bell that the prayers of International Headquarters were with the victims of the earthquake. ‘We are shocked, unhappy and downcast to hear overnight of a further quake in lovely Christchurch,' he said. 'We stand with you and your people in what you will do to offer relief.'
Commissioner Bell will soon visit the earthquake zone to encourage Salvation Army personnel.
Report by Major Christina Tyson
Christchurch, New Zealand: The Salvation Army in New Zealand is responding after the city of Christchurch was hit by a huge earthquake on Tuesday 22 February - the second major earthquake to affect the city in less than six months. At least 65 people are known to have been killed and - at time of writing - hundreds are trapped in the debris.
The 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck at 12.51 pm local time, causing structural damage and total destruction of some buildings. Vehicles were crushed by falling debris. Medical triage centers have established around the city and the mayor of Christchurch has declared a state of emergency.
The city of Christchurch and parts of the surrounding region were still rebuilding after a 7.1 earthquake that struck in the early hours of 4 September 2010. While that earthquake damaged buildings and made some homes inhabitable, there were no deaths and only a small number of injuries. The 22 February earthquake - said by seismologists to be an aftershock to the 2010 quake - was of a lesser magnitude than that in September but it was closer to the city center and nearer to the surface, which is why the damage is more significant.
By late afternoon The Salvation Army was assisting more than 1,000 people at a welfare site established near the inner city at Hagley Park. Shocked and grief-stricken locals are temporarily being housed in large marquees that were already on site for a flower show.
Major Rex Cross, emergency services coordinator for The Salvation Army in Christchurch, said that The Salvation Army was calling its emergency response teams together. Travel across the city was extremely difficult, however, and people are being told to stay away from the city center.
Catering supplies have been organized for around 1,500 people, says Major Cross, giving assurance that 'food is on its way and people will be fed'.
He adds: 'You just cannot imagine the enormity of this [quake] compared to the first one.'
Some Salvation Army buildings have been damaged. The Salvation Army's community ministry center in Christchurch has been severely damaged, with significant damage to Christchurch City Corps (Salvation Army church). The Salvation Army's South Island headquarters has also been affected.
The Salvation Army was involved in the initial response to last year's earthquake and has continued to assist with welfare and psychosocial support.
‘The situation in Christchurch is extremely serious,' says Commissioner Don Bell, commander of The Salvation Army's New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory. ‘Our prayers are with the city of Christchurch - we pray for our own people, for their friends and neighbors. We pray that God will give strength and hope to those who are in shock, and help rescue efforts.
‘The Salvation Army stands ready to continue to help the city in this terrible time of great grief and human need.'
The Salvation Army has re-launched its Canterbury Earthquake Appeal in expectation of great humanitarian need. National fundraising coordinator Major Robbie Ross says the region has suffered terribly since last September's earthquake and a tremendous effort was now required to help those already living with the hardships and psychological effects of the original quake and its aftershocks.
‘Our experience with the September quake showed us the great emotional shock such an event can have on people - and now there is the added dimension of people grieving for loved ones,' he says. ‘There will be a myriad of material needs by those who have lost possessions and homes. We are appealing for cash donations to strengthen our response.'
Queensland, Australia: Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) teams responded immediately in the aftermath of tropical Cyclone Yasi, which lashed the coastal region of Queensland, Australia, causing widespread devastation and destruction.
In the morning after Yasi struck, SAES teams served breakfast at Innisfail, which lost power and sustained severe damaged. Access was initially cut to the worst-hit communities along the coast but SAES teams went in as soon as the highway was reopened. Two Salvationists from Innisfail Corps (Salvation Army church) gained access to Tully on 5 February and fed 200 people. Teams from Cairns and Atherton assisted with catering to more than 600 people and a catering vehicle from the Sydney East and Illawarra Division was sent to the area to supplement the effort.
Townsville teams gained access to Cardwell on 6 February and a divisional catering truck was sent there.
'A team from Newcastle is supplementing the work, and we also have evacuation catering taking place at nearby Tully Heads,' said Major Rodney Walters, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army's Central and North Queensland Division.
SAES teams also catered for residents and emergency services crews in Innisfail and Ingham until all evacuation centers had closed. The teams were then diverted to Tully Heads.
In Townsville, The Salvation Army's Riverway Recovery Mission sustained some minor damage to the roof but SAES teams fed up to 150 people at the evacuation centers until power was restored and people could return home.
'A Toyota Trooper and SAES trailer have been deployed to Townsville for four-wheel drive ability to reach remote communities with damaged roads,' said Major Walters.
'The relief effort has moved to clean-up,' reports Major Bruce Harmer, manager at the recovery mission, 'which we are doing in partnership with Townsville City Council. They give us the addresses of the elderly or people with disabilities who need assistance and we go there and do what is needed.'
Volunteers include residents from the recovery mission.
In Cairns, SAES teams fed emergency services crews and people at the evacuation centers. Minor damage was sustained to the front and back gates of The Salvation Army's Centennial Lodge.
Envoy Simon Steele, The Salvation Army's Flying Padre, has been keeping in contact with people living on rural properties, providing help and support as required.
'Our teams and coordinators continue to provide incredible leadership and ministry in trying and difficult circumstances,' said Major Walters. 'Capacities are stretched, faith tested, resources coming, and our Almighty God is providing sustaining grace and mercy in abundant measure.'
Report by Simone Worthing
Pakistan: In northern Pakistan people are facing the cold of winter in very trying circumstances. In 2010 floods destroyed villages across the country and families lost their homes and all their belongings. Despite aid provided by the Government and non-government organizations (NGOs) many people still lack the basic necessities. The scale of the disaster is huge and the needs are seemingly endless.
Just in time for the colder season, The Salvation Army obtained funds from its Canada and Bermuda Territory to purchase and distribute winterized tents. These tents have several layers of material to ensure there is as much insulation as possible. In the area near Peshawar, 700 families have each received a tent. A winterized tent will not provide luxury accommodation but the reality is that it could mean the difference between life and death.
The Salvation Army in Pakistan is also looking at longer-term sustainable development projects. A community assessment trip took place to find out how people in affected communities want to change their situation. These trips include community mapping - ensuring the views of the whole community are taken into account - community walks, interviews and discussions with men and women. The process seeks to involve beneficiaries in all steps of the decision-making process regarding their future.
With new disasters happening around the world many people seem to have forgotten about the huge floods that hit Pakistan last year, affecting more than 20 million people. Fortunately, The Salvation Army in Pakistan has not stopped caring and it is still assisting countless people affected by the disaster.
In the face of such adversity, people in Pakistan are demonstrating that they have an abundance of strength, knowledge, courage and ideas. Sometimes it just needs an organization like The Salvation Army to get alongside them and give them the opportunity to improve their situation.
Donations to the 'Pakistan Floods Appeal' can be made online by clicking on the image or link below:
Additional photographs may be downloaded from:
Report by Damaris Frick
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: The Salvation Army's response to flooding and landslides in Brazil - now known to have killed more than 650 people - is growing by the day.
Donated goods, including much-needed mattresses, were taken by truck from São Paulo and São Miguel Paulista to The Salvation Army's Lar do Méier Community Center in Rio de Janeiro in readiness for distribution. Some goods will go to the town of Areal, which has been identified as a priority area, and some to Petrópolis, where 58 people were killed. The truck will remain in the area for use in the emergency response.
A meeting in Rio with the Director of the General Department of Civil Defense, Colonel Rossi, confirmed that The Salvation Army's participation will initially be concentrated on providing logistical support. Donations from the fire department in Vila Isabel are being directed to the most critical areas as defined by Civil Defense.
Supplies are being taken to Santa Maria Madalena and 10 tons of donations, along with goods from the city of Joinville, are scheduled to be taken on Wednesday to Teresópolis, where 276 people died.
The Salvation Army's Territorial Communications Director for Brazil, Major Téofilo Chagas, who is coordinating the Army's response, is now being assisted by Major Jorge Silva from Santa Cruz, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, and Cadet Fagner Castanho, who is on summer assignment.
Over the coming days Major Chagas plans to visit the places affected by the disaster so that he can determine where The Salvation Army's assistance is most needed.
Donations can be made online to The Salvation Army's Brazilian Mudslides Appeal by utilizing the link below:
Laurie Robertson, Lieut-Colonel
Communications Secretary, Editor-in-Chief and Literary Secretary
The Salvation Army International Headquarters
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: The Brazilian Government's Civil Defense Authority (CDA) has asked The Salvation Army to provide emergency relief to the victims of the floods and mudslides that have killed more than 500 people in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Salvationists and volunteer helpers will be providing physical, emotional, and spiritual relief in areas designated by the CDA. Access to the three affected towns, between 60 kilometers and 130 kilometers from the city of Rio de Janeiro, is difficult with a number of roads destroyed by the mudslides.
Collection points where food and other necessary supplies can be donated are being established in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
The Salvation Army's Territorial Communications Director for Brazil, Major Teofilo Chagas, is coordinating the Army's response.
Volunteers from the community service organization Rotary are assisting The Salvation Army in its relief effort.
Donations can be made online to The Salvation Army's Brazilian Mudslides Appeal by utilizing the link below:
Laurie Robertson, Lieut-Colonel
Communications Secretary, Editor-in-Chief and Literary Secretary
The Salvation Army International Headquarters
Australia: Army emergency relief volunteers in the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) are working around the clock providing assistance to the tens of thousands of people who have been affected by the current flood crisis. There have been 19 confirmed deaths with at least 61 people still missing.
In most areas this is the worst flooding for 36 years. A number of Salvation Army properties have been affected. Around 12,000 homes and 2,500 businesses have been flooded in the Brisbane area alone with 118,000 buildings without electricity.
More than 75 percent of Queensland is under flood and adjacent northern areas of NSW are also affected. Rivers have now peaked in many parts of Queensland and residents and emergency workers have begun the massive cleanup operations. Plans are now being put into place for the long-term re-building phase.
The Salvation Army will have direct input into the long-term recovery plans. Major Rick Hoffmann, Divisional Secretary for the South Queensland Division, has been appointed to the Queensland Flood Recovery Task Force. The major's appointment was made in response to a letter from Queensland Premier Anna Bligh to Australia Eastern Territorial Commander Commissioner Linda Bond, asking her to nominate a representative to this task force.
The Salvation Army emergency services teams continue to work tirelessly to feed flood victims, volunteers and State Emergency Service workers as well as providing comfort to the grieving.
In the Brisbane area the Army is ministering at five major evacuation centers - caring daily for more than 2,000 people. More than 200 residents of a Salvation Army aged care facility on the outskirts of Brisbane are among the many thousands of people who have been evacuated.
Salvation Army captain, Mark Bulow, was in the country city of Toowoomba when a (up to eight meters high, kilometer wide) devastating wall of water hit on 10 January.
‘Toowoomba is at the top of the mountain range, we never flood,' he said. ‘Nobody had ever previously witnessed what we saw on that day. You could hear the wall of water before you could see it. Some kids were playing in the water on the side of the road and people were just yelling at them to get out of the way. Within seconds, cars, industrial containers and other huge objects were being swept down by this torrent of water.'
‘People were in shock. We couldn't believe it and everyone just went quiet. I just thought, "Is this really happening?" It was one of those things you never, ever want to see again. I felt so helpless.'
Now Captains Mark and Jo-Anne (his wife), together with their emergency services teams, are involved in the relief and clean up effort. ‘We are also spending time with a man whose wife and two of his children lost their lives when the flood waters swept away the car in which they were travelling.'
Salvation Army emergency services teams from Toowoomba have been providing relief in a number of smaller country towns up to four hours drive away. ‘Everyone is pulling together and we are inundated with community people offering help. These include physiotherapists and counselors,' said Captain Bulow.
Meanwhile at Ipswich, Majors Bruce and Margaret Dobbie returned home after 11 days of relief work in flood-stricken Rockhampton (600 kilometers north) just in time to be involved in the flood relief at one of the four evacuation centers in their own city.
Salvation Army emergency service teams from non-flood affected areas of Australia are now arriving in Queensland to assist the relief effort. The emergency relief will be required for many days until houses are habitable enough for residents to return home.
Community volunteers and food donations at all flooded centers have greatly boosted The Salvation Army's ability to respond to the crisis.
The Salvation Army Eastern Territory has launched a flood relief appeal. Donations can be made through salvos.org.au on the territory's website.
Compiled from reports by Simone Worthing
Sri Lanka: Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by flooding in eastern and central Sri Lanka. Water levels in some areas are two meters higher than usual - and still rising. Crocodiles and snakes are a threat to anyone walking through the floodwaters.
Salvation Army personnel are working with government officials to determine specific needs. Salvationists are already providing meals at some of the relocation camps and offering basic assistance to people in the affected areas near Salvation Army centers.
The Salvation Army International Headquarters (IHQ) has launched an appeal for funds to assist the relief efforts. IHQ has sent an initial US$20,000 to The Salvation Army in Sri Lanka. A member of the International Emergency Services team is travelling to Sri Lanka to provide assessment and planning support.
The United Nations Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported that more than a million people have been affected. At least 27 people have died with many more injured. More than 325,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. They are accommodated at 493 temporary relocation centers in eight districts.
On the eastern side of Sri Lanka the district of Batticaloa, with 122,047 internally displaced persons, remains one of the most affected areas. The number of displaced people may increase as there are some areas where access has not been gained because of flooded roads and mudslides. Many areas are only accessible by boat and military helicopters.
Preceded by more than a week of intense wet weather, four days of non-stop heavy rain from 9 January have turned a portion of Sri Lanka into an ever-deepening lake. Some reservoirs have burst their banks destroying rice paddy fields. More heavy rain is expected in these areas during the next 36 hours.
Laurie Robertson, Lieut-Colonel
Communications Secretary, Editor-in-Chief and Literary Secretary
Haiti: In many ways, not much has changed in the one year since the devastating earthquake that took the lives of over 300,000 people in Haiti. Ninety-five percent of the rubble still litters the city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding countryside. Because of national elections, all progress in rebuilding has come to a standstill. Hundreds of thousands of people still live in tents, terribly vulnerable to adverse weather. Although there are signs of improvement in places, to even a casual observer, Haiti has gone only a short way on the road to recovery.
Navigating in this most difficult terrain, The Salvation Army in the Haiti Division has nonetheless made progress. A special team of officers and local employees have formed the Haiti Recovery Office. A special office at International Headquarters has been established, dedicated solely to expediting and coordinating the massive and widespread response to the emergency.
Despite the urgency of all that needs to be done, for a moment it was time to reflect and renew. On the one year anniversary of the quake, January 12, 2011, The Salvation Army both remembered the tragedy and launched a new beginning.
In a meeting with nearly 1000 in attendance, limited to that number only by space, The Salvation Army recalled both the victims and celebrated the survivors in a memorial service at its compound in Delmas 2, Port-au-Prince. In typical Haitian fashion, the singing and sense of celebration were reminders that while the earthquake was a great tragedy, God had never forsaken Haiti. A challenging message was preached by divisional commander, Major Lucien Lamartinière. With great passion he shared,
"In just a few seconds on January 12, 2010 thousands of people died, thousands became physically handicapped, and thousands became poorer than poor. On January 13 I was homeless with only one shirt and one pair of pants. Yet, those of us who survived live with the reality of God's goodness every day. If we are alive it is because of God's grace. The earthquake is not a punishment from God because we have sinned. It is the way we build that caused so many to die, so we must assume some responsibility. We have to conclude that the hand of God was in action. Have you asked why you are alive? God has the answer. If he has kept you alive it is because he has a mission for you to fulfill. There is a city to rebuild, there is a country to save. God's wants you to be a Nehemiah and to help us rebuild our country. Do not be an observer, become a builder."
Immediately following that service, a procession led by territorial leaders, Colonels Onal and Edmane Castor and supported by Lt. Colonels Lindsay and Lynette Rowe as well as members of the Haiti divisional staff, marched to a new set of temporary buildings that will serve the College Verena, the Army's school whose buildings were compromised by the quake. The building will also double as the temporary home of the Port-au-Prince Central Corps. The two wooden buildings will house 12 classrooms while they are used during the week. Major Jean Volet's ingenious design, allows that in a matter of a minutes the movable walls can be pushed aside to provide open space to allow for the worship and service of the Port-au-Prince Central Corps. This open plan will allow for seating for 700 people.
Following the ribbon cutting by Colonel Onal Castor, Territorial Commander, the crowd streamed inside where the celebratory mood was infectious. Approximately 750 people crowded into the building or stood outside to join in the happy event featuring specials by various Corps groups and enthusiastic singing from those gathered, underscoring the victory. This was the first step in the Army's reconstruction effort since the earthquake. Almost all the Army's buildings in Port-au-Prince were damaged beyond repair necessitating a massive rebuilding program.
One of the most moving moments came when Advisory Board chairman, Mr. Hervé Denis, spoke about the death of his mother in the earthquake. "They found my mother on her knees where she had been praying. Our family believes that when the earthquake struck she was praying for us." Mr. Denis said he considered his service with The Salvation Army an important way to honor his mother and to give back to his native land.
Colonel Onal Castor then brought the address, speaking about not only the spiritual challenge created by the earthquake but the Army's response from around the world. "We salute you," said the Colonel, "We salute your courage, we salute your faith. You are people of faith even though you are victims because when the earthquake came you forgot about yourself and served God's hurting people." "We salute the International Army. From the sixteen countries of the Caribbean Territory to the 122 countries that form the Army world they gave money and many came to help us take care of our people and begin to rebuild." The Colonel reminded the congregation that their General, Shaw Clifton, and Commissioner Helen Clifton who had been with them just two months before the earthquake, were with them now in prayer and that they send their love and warm greetings on this day of commemoration. The Colonel then shared with the congregation the rebuilding plans for the future and the many programs that would support and empower the community to make it more resilient and prepared to respond to future disasters.
Afterwards, in reflecting on the day and his trip that afternoon to participate in the High Council, Colonel Castor said, "My heart is just overwhelmed. The countries and territories of the world have made the reconstruction of the Army possible. I want the world to know that we are grateful, so very grateful. Words fail us. We are proud to be a part of the worldwide Salvation Army that moves when there is a need and gives almost beyond measure. That is the message I will share with The Salvation Army leaders from across the world."
Submitted by: Major Ron Busroe
The Salvation Army
Director, Haiti Recovery and Development
Atlanta, GA: Monday's record breaking winter storm forced school and road closures throughout metro Atlanta, and left over 150 passengers stranded at Greyhound's Forsyth Street Station in Atlanta. Since Monday evening, at the request of Greyhound and City Officials, The Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Team has been providing meals and warm beverages to the hungry travelers.
According to The Salvation Army officials, Greyhound and City Officials reached out to The Salvation Army after icy roads, and road closures forced the shut-down of bus and restaurant service at the Station.
"When we arrived the passengers were hungry, and understandably frustrated with the weather and their situation," says Janeane Schmidt, Executive Director of The Salvation Army Red Shield Shelter in Atlanta. "We immediately began handing out hot meals and beverages for dinner, and we returned Tuesday morning with breakfast."
The Salvation Army will again provide dinner service on Tuesday evening, and will continue assisting until restaurant and/or bus services are restored.
Haiti: As the cholera death toll in Haiti approaches 3,500 people, The Salvation Army continues to provide treatment to those who have been infected and prevention support to the wider community.
Antibiotics, soap, bleach and oral rehydration supplies are essential in the fight against cholera. Soap is provided weekly to more than 2,000 College Verena students and staff as well as to 13,000 people living in the nearby Place de la Paix Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.
The Port-au-Prince Salvation Army clinic has received supplies of soap, bleach, antibiotics and oral rehydration packets. Operating in a temporary facility with limited space, the clinic has not been able to set up a treatment center but there is a treatment center operated by the Organization of International Ministry (OIM) in the IDP camp. The Salvation Army works closely with the camp committee to provide adequate supplies for the center.
Bethel Clinic, the Salvation Army's hospital in Fond des Negres, operates a cholera treatment center containing 17 beds. That center was quickly filled and an additional site is being organized with the assistance of the Haitian government. Captain Felix Ezeh, the clinic administrator, reports eight cholera-related deaths at the hospital. A pressure washing machine was purchased to improve the clinic's disinfecting protocols.
Cholera is an easily treated disease, but can be fatal if treatment is not started within three or four hours of becoming symptomatic.
Every area of Haiti is impacted by the epidemic and many Salvation Army corps (churches) and schools are reporting infections in their communities. The Couyot community is of particular concern because access to medical assistance is a five-to-seven hour walk and patients could die before reaching treatment. A supply of oral rehydration packets and bleach has been sent to Couyot.
The Salvation Army response to the cholera outbreak has been made possible through a donor from the Bahamas along with a grant from The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory.
Report by Major Ron Busroe