It’s hard to believe that it’s been 4 years since Hurricane Katrina wrecked havoc on the coast line of Mississippi and Louisiana leaving devastation and tears behind. Neighborhoods were flooded from broken levees and lives were shattered and transformed from the loss of life, homes and livelihoods. The Salvation Army was poised and ready to hit the streets of New Orleans and the shoreline of Biloxi as soon as the rain and wind ceased. We were the first to arrive and quickly offer a hot cup of coffee, soup, sandwiches and most importantly prayer and spiritual counseling for those questioning, why?
Our canteen here in Nashville was called down to serve within 24 hours of the storm hitting the coastline. One staff member and several volunteers loaded up and headed down to Pascagoula, LA where there wasn’t any electricity and volunteers had to sleep on the floor of the church or the floor of the canteen. Conditions were rough, supplies scarce, but that didn’t stop the determination of The Salvation Army. We trudged ahead and fed hundreds each day; praying with them as they ate. Our Area Commander, Major Ronnie Raymer and his wife Major Sharon Raymer were called down to New Orleans where they faced vastly flooded areas and people who were yearning for the way their life was only 24 hours ago! Major Raymer stated their canteens hit Bourbon street and Canal street in record time and were dishing out hot meals as fast as they could.
At the same time, thousands fled the New Orleans and Biloxi area and ended up here in Nashville. Every day, we saw hundreds of families come through our Nashville office seeking basic hygiene products, food and clothes. Staff members took turns filling out the intake forms, praying with individuals and issuing them the items they needed. Dollar General Corporate office located in Goodlettsville donated boxes and boxes of shampoos, conditioners, soap, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. Many donors contributed snacks and water for the families and The Salvation Army issued gift cards, food boxes, clothing and furniture vouchers.
Now it’s four years later and The Salvation Army is still partnering with several other agencies to help serve those in need of housing, food, job assistance, etc. *The Katrina Aid Today partnership was formed in response to the unrepresented need following Hurricane Katrina. The partners aligned with this Consortium are (listed alphabetically):
Boat People SoS
Episcopal Relief and Development
Lutheran Disaster Response
National Disability Rights
Odyssey House – Louisiana
Society of St. Vincent de Paul
The Salvation Army
Volunteers of America
And 17 other Valued Grassroots Organizations
The Salvation Army, with Katrina Aid Today funding and its own funds from private contributions, created its Katrina Long Term Recovery Case Management Program. Guided by UMCOR Long Term Recovery Case Management principles approxamately fifty percent of the program activities are centered on the immediate storm impacted destiniation areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama as well as the other evacuee destinations of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Survivors that have relocated across America will be assisted in their new locations.
The goal of our case management engagement with Hurricane Katrina evacuee households is to facilitate their access to all resources necessary to restore their households to their maximum level of potential and self-sufficiency. This includes permanent housing in the community where they choose to reside (pre-Katrina or destination city). This is to be done through extensive case management engagement with case managed households, by consorting with other Katrina Aid Today consortium member agencies and Long Term Recovery Committees (LTRCs), and carried out through professional social workers and qualified volunteer case managers.
- Provide Case Management services to 13,840 Katrina survivor households
- Develop a recovery action plan for each household
- Enhance the psychosocial well being of these families
- Hire and train 86 professional Long Term Recovery Specialist
- Identify and train 346 case manager volunteers to work with these specialist
- Coordinate service delivery locally and nationally with other members of the National Case Management Consortium through the use of Long Term Recovery Groups, Unmet Needs Committies, and the Coordinated Assistance Network (CAN) web-based software
The Salvation Army is positioned for this years hurricane season which kicked off June 1. We are always looking for not only funding as we prepare for disasters that may occur but volunteers as well who are eager to serve those in need with not only food and something to drink, but also with a kind word, a hug and the understanding that they are not alone!
*Katrina Aid excerpts courtesy of http://www.uss.salvationarmy.org