Share This Episode
Words of Life Salvation Army Logo

How does The Salvation Army Respond to a Disaster?

Words of Life / Salvation Army
The Truth Network Radio
June 25, 2023 1:19 am

How does The Salvation Army Respond to a Disaster?

Words of Life / Salvation Army

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 244 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

June 25, 2023 1:19 am

In this episode of our series about The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services, Bobbi Geery walks us through how The Salvation Army responds to an event. One crucial part of our success is the partnerships we’ve developed over the years.


Series: Emergency Disaster Services


Hi, this is Bernie Dake. You're listening to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. All over the Gulf Coast calling Hurricane Katrina their own tsunami. It is a total catastrophic disaster.

A region that's been utterly devastated. Our response is generous and the need is overwhelming. The president is now touring one of the Salvation Army centers that have been set up to try and distribute relief. Just have the Salvation Army truck. The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army. Thank God for the Salvation Army.

Organizations like the Salvation Army would be taking care of them. The Army's mission is to serve the people who need our help and to preach the gospel of Christ. Welcome back to Words of Life. I'm Cheryl Gillum.

And I'm Bernie Dake. And we're here with our special guest for this series, Bobby Geary. So glad to have you with us again. Last week we talked about the greatest asset of disaster services in the Salvation Army, and that is volunteers. And Bobby gave us the overview.

So if you're interested in volunteering, make sure you go back to last week's episode to be able to know how to volunteer. And this week we're going to look at some more recent disasters that we've had. Yeah, Bobby, I think the best way we can educate people is take us through a disaster. So I think a lot of people know about Hurricane Ian in this country. We knew it was coming.

What's happening in your offices? Well, I think before we ever get to even knowing that the hurricane is coming, one of the things to keep in mind is that disaster services is preparing right now for the next major disaster. Well, here in Oklahoma, certainly tornadoes are a major threat. So Oklahomans, the better they are prepared individually, the better our state is prepared.

Seeing the devastation of the 2013 storm, knowing that the interior bathroom would not have been enough, it's a very scary feeling. Now the concern for my family is more intensified, having kids. And so that is definitely a stress with me thinking about them while I have to respond and do my job for the community. When it comes to the Salvation Army Safe Room Program, it's extremely important for our state. It builds on the resiliency, not only at the individual level, but also at the state level. Any time we can provide peace of mind to individuals and their families, the better prepared our state's going to be.

Well, with two small children, it's very nerve-wracking. You want to make sure that they're safe. You want to make sure that he safely is out and not worried about us. Having that storm shelter presented to us by the Salvation Army has been truly a blessing for our family, to know that we can have that time to go into the shelter, be safe, even if it doesn't come near us.

We have that peace of mind knowing that everything will be okay. The Salvation Army Program is especially important because it has some flexibility that your government programs do not have. We know the Salvation Army Program reaches out to individuals, often who cannot afford the outlay at the beginning of the project. They can still get a safe room this way, and we think that's very, very important. My husband is a police officer, and so he is a first responder. If any natural disasters occur, he does have to go out and support the community, and it's a very stressful time.

The kids are, why does Eddie have to go? They're seeing it on the news. I usually try to turn the news off, but we watch it. So it's very stressful, and knowing that we have a plan and that we can go down into our shelter, and that they'll be okay, they can bring their tablets, and they know that the storm is going to pass over us, and we've got to watch after them has been a huge, huge weight off of us. And knowing that the Salvation Army did that for us is just a wonderful feeling. We've truly been blessed to have that opportunity to receive it from the Salvation Army.

Now that I have the storm shelter, and I have to leave to go do my job, I am confident that my family will be safe. We have a safe room rebate program at the state level, but of course we have limited funds. There are some requirements there that are difficult for people sometimes, and we understand that. And the fact that we have a private nonprofit coming in and providing this program allows some flexibility that we just don't have in government. And the more we can put in safe rooms, the safer our entire state is. We're already stockpiling things like cleanup kits, hygiene kits, toddler and infant kits, in fact. You know, shelf-stable meals so that we can be prepared for that first go of a disaster if necessary.

You know, our hope is, and prayer, obviously, is that we go without needing those items, but in truth, we can all see just how often we're responding these days. It was pretty obvious, you know, about five o'clock that day that something was going to happen where it went. Exactly what track it was going to take, we really didn't know, but we knew it was going to affect the city of El Reno in one way or another. We're tracking a large and extremely dangerous tornado six miles southeast of El Reno. One of the whitest, they tell me, ever.

I can't honestly tell you. It just looked like a black sky to me. And, you know, when it came down, we were able to track it for about half of its path via radar and everything until all of our Internet resources and everything went down. And if you're in a position like I am as a fire chief, the Salvation Army is the resource. Those are the people that you need on your cell phone on speed dial. I think they were in town somewhere around ten o'clock that night, already kind of setting up to help us at our emergency operations center, take care of the responders, feed them and everything else. I couldn't sit here and tell you that I know the history of the Salvation Army or anything like that.

I just know that every individual that I've ever met associated with the Salvation Army volunteers everyone that works for them. They care. They want to do something to help, from something like a tornado coming through like that down to a smaller six-hour event where we have some wildfires here in Oklahoma. They're always there.

They always take care of things and do it to the highest standard. During Hurricane Ian, as we watched the maps, we keep a very close eye on what the Weather Channel and folks like that are saying. We look at how to start staging equipment and personnel and supplies. That's the first thing that we're looking at. We're looking at when to set up donations links and pages. We're looking at how many disaster response vehicles we might need in the impacted area. We're looking at our media strategy.

Who's going to be our spokespersons in these potentially impacted areas? We can plan for, oh, that storm's going to go this way, but 20 miles difference or 30 miles difference means we also have to adjust things. During Hurricane Ian, we actually pre-deployed and pre-staged the Texas team with all of our base camp equipment along with food service delivery units and personnel. They started making their way across Texas and the south southern states and into Florida. It took them three days to get to Fort Myers.

They started three days in advance of that storm making landfall. When you say base camp, we're not talking about a van with a trailer attached to it. Tell the listeners about the scope of these vehicles that we have.

Yeah, sure. We've recently gone to more of a base camp model because housing is such a challenge after a hurricane especially. That equipment includes things like bunk houses where we can have people sleep and have their own little hotel room. Then we have hand washing stations and shower trailers and laundry units and all of those different types of things that are required to keep our personnel housed and ready and feeling good for their service. Yeah. It's not a small operation. It is not.

Which is what I'm trying to just convey to the listeners. It is an incredible feat of humanity, frankly, and the amount of equipment that we've been able to amass because of honestly the generosity of the American public, the people that have come alongside the salvation army as partners in this ministry. We are ever so grateful for that. Can you talk about some of those?

Sure. Oftentimes if we're deploying for a major disaster or even some smaller localized divisional types of disasters, we often work with our partners at the Southern Baptists. Frequently they'll set up their kitchens and they'll cook the meals and then we'll serve them. So it's a great partnership.

We work well together and honestly we couldn't do it without them. And so they are our meal providers most of the time. Other partners are just local government and state government, other mass care agencies as well. One of our other great partners in all of this is FedEx and UPS who provide shipping of goods for us. So they're just fantastic to have that partnership with. Midwest Food Bank is another one when it gets time to begin to give out bulk distribution types of items. Midwest Food Bank provides us with multiple tractor trailer loads of food boxes. So our work is done with the assistance and help of others as well. So it's a great partnership.

And so when we do that we start thinking about, okay, how is this going to look? Who are we going to call? And the Salvation Army is always one of our first calls. I can't tell you there was a moment of turf war between the responding agencies. It was all about what can you bring to the table that's going to benefit these families. And for there to be multiple organizations there, like the Salvation Army or Feed the Children or other nonprofit organizations, it allows us to help refer other people to their organization and you make a greater impact.

It really requires a whole community response. We all have a role to play as agencies, as individuals, as neighbors. When a community sees the main agencies that they know respond to disasters, when they see us working together, it is a huge win.

And the multiplier effect of that is the people on the ground. We talk to each other about where has someone fallen through the cracks and how can we help them. I look forward to working with the Salvation Army every day. They've been great partners. They're caring. They're compassionate. They can help the individual and meet their needs that we in government can't meet.

We're finding ourselves majoring on the gaps. And the generosity that came from Oklahoma but from around the country was pretty tremendous. And I think that allows us to continue to serve these families to this day. It feels like the Salvation Army just doesn't sleep. And we're grateful for the work that you're doing, Bobbi.

This has been a great series for us and there's more to come. We hope that the listeners will join us next week as we kind of wrap this up. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit to offer your support. And we'd love to hear from you. Call 1-800-229-9965 or visit to connect.

Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or your testimony. With your permission, we would love to use your story on the show. You can also subscribe to Words of Life on your favorite podcast store. Or visit to learn about more programs produced by the Salvation Army. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. Join us next time for the Salvation Army's Words of Life.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-25 02:24:31 / 2023-06-25 02:29:54 / 5

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime