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Emergency Services Image

Emergency Services

Services for natural and every-day disasters

Battling Disasters

Every year, natural disasters devastate thousands of individuals and families. While the destruction often takes only minutes, the result is a long-term struggle for many survivors, first responders, and the communities affected.

The Salvation Army of Greater New York takes great pride in its history of disaster response work - notably following the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001, Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and more localized disasters like fires, gas explosions, and water main breaks.

We have been an integral part of the Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts working with our nonprofit and government partners to address long-term ramifications of the devastation brought to the tri-state area. We also have provided support for evacuees who came to New York after being displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Our Emergency Services team focuses not only on disaster response and recovery but also on mitigation and preparedness. To ensure long-term recovery, we work with affected families, teach disaster preparedness workshops, and provide direct financial assistance where needed.


In 2018, 133,284 different homeless men, women, and children slept in the New York City municipal shelter system, including 45,600 homeless children. This does not include the roughly 4,000 individuals sleeping on the streets of New York City each night.

The Salvation Army of Greater New York provides long-term shelter to those experiencing homelessness through two family shelters and one adult Mentally Ill Chemically Addicted (MICA) shelter in New York City. We also work with our partners to provide emergency short-term shelter.

Addressing homelessness as a slow moving disaster, our Emergency Services staff are active members and leaders in the Rescue Alliance coalition, coordinating Don’t Walk By every February - an annual winter outreach to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. In addition, The Salvation Army recently expanded its presence in the community through mobile social service units, which are fully equipped vans staffed with certified personnel.


Social Service Response Unit

The Social Service Response Unit (SSRU) targets vulnerable individuals on the street, including but not limited to individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Staff in the SSRU ease these individuals’ burdens through the distribution of items including new socks, hygiene kits, gloves, coats, as well as coffee and hot chocolate.

Through repeated and consistent contact, staff develop a relationship where these individuals begin to form a trusted connection. Through this trusted relationship, we have witnessed these individuals become more open to receiving information and referral to our own social service programming, as well as those of our partnerships with nonprofit and government agencies. We have experienced success through this program and are excited to see it expand and grow to additional Salvation Army locations that take part in mobile ministry.

The desired goal of this program is for these individuals to achieve sustainable long-term recovery.  Our hope is that as program capacity increases, development of unique program elements to address known service gaps (e.g. podiatry care, haircuts, shower services, substance misuse treatment, pet care, etc.) will occur.


COVID-19 Relief

With a presence in almost every ZIP code in America, The Salvation Army is poised to respond to the unique needs of people living in poverty. These challenges are exponentially magnified during times of crisis, including pandemics like coronavirus (COVID-19). Now, so many who never imagined being in crisis and needing our help, are coming to us for the very first time. It humbles us to know that we are their source of comfort at their point of hardship.

Across the United States, we are stepping up to the challenge and continue to serve the most vulnerable populations in each community.

While adhering to all federal and local government mandates and guidelines, The Salvation Army is considered an ‘essential business’ and has continued offering food through grab-and-go meals and food pantries. Locations are also providing hygiene kits to those experiencing homelessness who are not in a position to maintain the same health standards while living on the streets.

Nearly one-third of food pantries in the five boroughs have already shut down as they struggle to feed the growing number of New Yorkers left jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered thousands of businesses.* Pantries that are able to stay open are struggling with increased demand and lack of personnel. It’s even harder for pantries to stay open as staff and volunteers get sick and they close their facilities for cleaning.

As the crisis begins to fade, our team will continue to work with affected individuals and families on a long-term recovery plan to get them on a path to stability.

Hurricane Preparedness

With hurricane season upon us, preparing ourselves for what may come has become ever more important. Continue to check this page as we update it with information and links to resources regarding how you can better prepare yourself for this dangerous season.

Hurricane Preparedness for Individuals Living in Basement Apartments

Preparing Before the Storm:

  • You may only have minutes to evacuate if your home begins to flood. Have a "go bag" prepared in advance and place it where it is easily accessible. Back up any critical documents that could be damaged by water by e-mailing them to yourself or using cloud storage.
  • Pay attention to the area you live in and typical flooding inside or outside your unit during rainfall. If you live at the bottom of hills, if your street typically floods, or if you get water in your unit during regular rainfall, you will be at higher risk during heavy rain.
  • Check if there is a second exit from your unit in case the main door is blocked by water. If your second exit is a window, make sure you are able to fit through to escape.
  • Sign up for emergency and weather alerts for your area.

When a Storm is Forecast or Impacting Your Area:

  • If you are in a basement that begins to flood, leave immediately. Flood waters can rise quickly and can impact your ability to exit, including making it difficult or impossible to open doors.
  • If necessary to exit quickly, leave your belongings (including "go bag") behind-- your life is most valuable.
  • Flood water can cause structural damage and can cause walls to break, leading to rapid flooding. Even if flooding in your unit is minimal or slow moving, evacuate immediately.
  • Monitor emergency notifications, weather updates, and conditions outside your home throughout the storm. If in doubt, be ready to get out.
  • If possible, make plans to stay with a loved one or neighbor when a storm or heavy rain is forecast to impact your area.

After the Storm:

  • Do not step into a flooded area if there is any chance the electricity is still on and do not use electronic appliances that have been exposed to water.
  • Extensive flooding can cause damage to structures that is not immediately visible to the naked eye. Do not return to your home until it has been cleared for habitation.
  • Take pictures of the damage before beginning cleanup. If you plan to continue living in the unit, familiarize yourself with mold cleaning procedures and understand if professional services are needed to make your unit safe for habitation.
  • Wear gloves, goggles, and an N-95 respirator mask to protect yourself when cleaning.

Hurricane Preparedness for Individuals Living in Homes with Basements

  • When sheltering in place during a hurricane or storm, avoid sheltering or sleeping in the basement as this area of your home is most prone to flooding.
  • Monitor any basement flooding during the storm and be prepared to evacuate if water levels continue to rise; do not come in contact with any flooded areas if the electricity in your home is still on.
  • Anticipate that your basement might flood even if the rest of your home is not impacted.
    • Store your family's "go bags" and emergency supplies on higher floors of your home.
    • Bring documents, family photos, and other keepsakes to higher floors and store in watertight containers.
    • Bring electronic devices, school supplies, or other valuable/frequently used items upstairs.
    • If you store seasonal items in your basement, bring some items (for example, coats, boots, blankets) upstairs to protect them from potential flooding.
    • Flood waters frequently mix with sewage. Please note that items, including textiles, left in a flooded basement may need special cleaning or may be damaged beyond repair.
  • Understand and prepare for how flood damage in your basement might impact your long-term access to utilities even if the rest of your home does not flood (for example, water heater in basement damaged by flooding).
  • After the storm, take pictures of the damage before beginning cleanup. Wear gloves, goggles, and an N-95 respirator mask to protect yourself when cleaning and familiarize yourself with mold cleaning procedures.