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Disasters of incredible magnitude call for people of incredible generosity.
Many first responders say that The Salvation Army is the first to have boots on the ground and the last to leave when disaster strikes.
This is because we're already present in most communities. Our staff and volunteers are part of that community, working for weeks, months or even years to help their neighbors until the scars of destruction are covered with hope and renewal. Our disaster services teams also respond year-round to local emergencies.
As one of the nation's major emergency relief organizations, The Salvation Army recognizes the critical importance of being prepared for natural and man-made disasters. Therefore, we take steps to ensure our own ability to respond quickly and efficiently to a disaster while also working to educate other disaster professionals and the public at large about how to prepare for and respond to emergency situations.
Emergency response services are activated on short notice according to an agreed-upon notification procedure coordinated with federal, state and local governments. Typically, Salvation Army personnel and resources will congregate at predetermined staging areas, entering the impacted area only once government first-responders have indicated that it is safe and constructive to do so. These immediate response activities include food and hydration services, shelter, cleanup and emergency communication assistance to put victims in touch with their loved ones.
Depending on the magnitude of the disaster, The Salvation Army may continue providing immediate response services such as emergency shelter and food service well into the recovery process. Additionally, the Army will often coordinate with local, state and federal entities to develop and execute long-term strategic disaster recovery plans. These activities include restoration and rebuilding initiatives, disaster social services (to address essential living needs, medical expenses or funeral costs), and in-kind donation distribution to disaster victims.
Throughout the duration and aftermath of a major disaster, The Salvation Army provides spiritual comfort and emotional support upon request to victims and emergency workers coping with the stress of a catastrophe. Salvation Army counselors, who are often ordained as clergy (officers), may simply offer a "ministry of presence," but often people who know about The Salvation Army as representatives of God may ask for prayer or help from the Bible. Disaster relief and recovery services are provided to all in need without discrimination.