Tampa, FL (August 29, 2012)–As volunteers and staff trickle in from a 10-hour shift of hydrating first responders and the public in downtown Tampa, they are relaying stories of how The Salvation Army is doing more than just passing out cups of water.
“People are not used to this heat and humidity,” said Doug Corwin, a staff member from Melbourne, Fla., serving with 11 other Salvation Army of Florida units in downtown Tampa. “They don’t know to drink a lot of water. We are helping to keep them healthy.”
Corwin, 49, has served on several Salvation Army disaster response teams including Hurricane Ike in Texas and Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.
“While serving during Katrina, people were passing out because of the heat,” he said. “We know how hot it can get in August and what a cold cup of water can do and how it can help on hot, humid day.”
The Salvation Army will be in downtown until Thursday, serving water and offering encouraging words to people who come to the canteens (mobile kitchens).
Since Saturday, The Salvation Army has provided 17,781 cold drinks, 3,056 snacks and 8,218 cases of bottled water to first responders and the public.
Operation Rehabilitation is a multi-agency, collaborative effort to keep the public hydrated. Salvation Army canteens are strategically stationed at downtown fire hydrants for easy access to city water.
“Our role to support the City of Tampa in ensuring the public health and safety by providing hydration resources fits within our Emergency Disaster Services mission,” said Kevin Smith, Salvation Army’s emergency services director. “We are fortunate to have many partners that care about the significant heat during this event and we all want to ensure their safety.”
Kerry Dennis, a volunteer from The Salvation Army in Sarasota, said he and his team have passed out hundreds of cups of water at his canteen, located at Kennedy Boulevard and Tampa Street near Lykes Gaslight Park.
“The crowds are being friendly,” he said. “They are just glad we are here with cups of water.”
Along with Operation Rehabilitation, The Salvation Army is also serving residents in the Palm Beach area after Isaac caused massive flooding.
Since flooding began in the area, The Salvation Army has served more than 400 meals in Palm Beach county.
“The Salvation Army is humbled to serve as an instrument of hope to those impacted by this flooding,” said Palm Beach County Area Commander, Major Thomas McWilliams. “In the past five years, I do not recall a flooding situation of this magnitude and longevity.”
Relief efforts will extend throughout the impacted region.
In addition to feeding, The Salvation Army is prepared to provide:
• Clean-up kits containing brooms, mops, buckets and cleaning supplies
• Hygiene kits
• Drinking water
• Shower units
• First-aid supplies
• Emotional/spiritual care
The Salvation Army encourages all residents of areas in the storm’s path to prepare an Emergency supply kit and stay informed to all warnings. Disaster response professionals recommend having a three to five day supply of food and water for each individual of your family as well as flashlights, medication, and battery powered radio.
For more information on how The Salvation Army of Florida is responding to the storm, follow @salarmyfla on Twitter, search for “Salvation Army Florida Division” on Facebook or go to our website, www.salvationarmyflorida.org. You can also go to www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org other ways The Salvation Army is helping residents recover from a disaster.
The Salvation Army asks people who want to help those affected by this disaster to visit www.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). Donors may also contribute $10 via their phone bill by *text messaging the word STORM to 80888, and confirming the donation with the word, “Yes.” Checks may be made out to The Salvation Army Disaster Relief and can be sent to your local Salvation Army in Florida. Please designate “2012 Hurricane Relief” on all checks.
At this point, in-kind donations are not being accepted. Used clothing and used furniture are seldom required during an incident. However, these gifts are vitally important in supporting the day-to-day work of your local Salvation Army. Please consider giving these items to your local Salvation Army Family Store or dial 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825).
In the short-term aftermath of a storm, Salvation Army officers and staff will focus primarily on the immediate needs of disaster survivors and first-responders, providing food and hydration for impacted individuals and families.
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About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.