The Salvation Army Rolls into Action
Moore, OK (June 4, 2013) "You like this?" Major Louden asks a group of Union City volunteers as he rolls up to a tornado-stricken home.
Louden, currently serving as The Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services Incident Commander in Oklahoma, talks about his visit to some of the worst hit areas in Canadian County.
"Everywhere we went on Sunday, folks were asking about the RZR (“razor”)," Major Louden explains.
"These guys out here in Oklahoma, they're farmers and cowboys. They're country boys. They live on larger pieces of land, with acres between neighbors. When we were in Union City we saw families who had lost absolutely everything. One family told us that they had nine months worth of food stocked up, and now it's gone. Completely gone. We talked to a family who had just secured renter's insurance, but their insurance didn't go into effect until today—three days after the tornado. And then, to top it off, downed power lines and debris strewn across the countryside make it impossible for other vehicles to get out here. These families have lost absolutely everything, and now, with the help of this wonderful donation from Polaris, we will be able to assist those who have been hit the hardest in a reasonable amount of time."
Major Louden's day began with a press conference with Governor Fallin. While the media focused on the Governor, the sheriff's deputies in the background were checking out the RZR parked on the flatbed in the lot.
When the press conference ended Major Louden moved on up the road. While he was filling up at the corner gas station, the onlookers began to drool. From power crews to Sunday strollers, everyone wanted to get an up-close look at the RZR on the trailer. The never-flat, honeycomb tires were of particular interest—and maybe even inspired a little envy.
"This is sweet!"
"How much do you think these things cost?"
"How can I get me one of those?"
The RZR is a machine the locals respect, because they know what it’s capable of—including speeds over 100 miles per hour. It’s no wonder that Major Louden takes getting behind the wheel seriously.
“You have your seatbelt on?” he asks as we prepare to head out. “Traveling these unexplored, uncleared routes is serious business.”
Major Louden is excited by the prospect of how the RZR and other vehicles donated by Polaris to The Salvation Army will expand EDS operations. “When you're out there, serving as a first responder, you have no idea what will be on the road ahead. With a vehicle like this The Salvation Army can be there days before the power company even has a chance to roll into some of these neighborhoods. And our canteens, they're too big to drive down some of those roads but to have access to a vehicle like this—with its high ground clearance and protected undercarriage—this will allow us to roll right up to the front door of those in need.”
During Sunday’s home visits, Major Louden crossed debris-choked fields and pock-marked dirt roads to check on every household, bringing a bit of relief to those in distress.
“The RZR is the way to go,” he says. “With the addition of this machine we have the ability to maneuver quickly from home to home, making sure that every person has water and a hot meal. We met people who hadn't eaten in two days. We met kids who were hot, hungry, and tired. It’s amazing what a sub sandwich and a box of hot chicken can do for someone when The Salvation Army rolls up.”