The Salvation Army has units on standby to respond to the damage of Hurricane Frances, which is moving slowly toward the east coast of Florida after hitting the Bahamas.
“We have pretty much honkered down and are waiting for the storm to pass through the state before we reactivate our response,” said Salvation Army Florida Director of Development Steve Dick.
He said the organization plans to establish 13 of Florida’s Salvation Army centers as key operation centers in providing disaster relief services to victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Frances.
Food is the first need Salvation Army personnel will attend to.
“Once the storm has passes,” said Dick, “there is no power, there is no ability to do any type of cooking in the home. The first immediate need is to provide them with food, the ability to eat and provide nourishment.”
The Salvation Army will relocate personnel and supplies according to each location’s need, according to Dick, but centers will first determine what relief is needed locally.
Early Saturday, the hurricane hit the Bahamas, killing one person. Although the National Hurricane Center reported that Hurricane Frances has reduced its intensity, it is bringing storms that may cause flooding. However, Hurricane Frances, a category 2, is twice the size of category 4 Hurricane Charley.
Over 2.5 million Floridians have been ordered Friday to evacuate while Gov. Jeb Bush declared a state emergency.
Meanwhile, airports in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Melbourne were closed. Walt Disney World also closed its parks on Saturday.
In Associated Press reports, the American Red Cross said it is mounting its largest response effort ever to a natural disaster, opening 82 shelters across the state and already housing over 20,000 people.
The Salvation Army will have a clearer assessment of relief needs on Monday, Dick said. Currently, eighteen of Salvation Army units from North and South Carolina, Georgia are on standby.
The ministry’s efforts comes just three weeks after around 60 relief teams and 400 Salvation Army staff and volunteers assisted Hurricane Charley victims.
While Dick described many of those volunteers as feeling “fatigue,” he said they understand the role of The Salvation Army is to provide assistance in disaster situations.
“It will be a monumental task,” he commented. “We hope that through the power of God that we will have the strength to carry on.”
Dick said volunteers will be needed to pack and sort food, answer telephones, and register cases, but financial contributions would be the best form of aid to the organization.
“The best way for people to directly to help is financially because we can take that money and turn that around immediately to buy the supplies needed,” he said.