The Salvation Army continues service in Sopchoppy, Live Oak, as residents pick up the pieces

June 29, 2012 - 11:50 AM EDT
Dulcinea Cuellar Kimrey
(813) 340-8465
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Tallahassee, Fla. (June  29, 2012) – The Salvation Army continues to be a shield in the storm as it counsels, feeds and offers hope to residents affected by Tropical Storm Debby flooding.The Salvation Army is serving in Live Oak and Sopchoppy, two rural communities hardest hit by flooding. Jeff and Joan Ellis, Live Oak residents, have stayed at the Suwannee Coliseum Complex, a Suwannee county shelter, since Tuesday when their home flooded.

“There was water up to our waist,” Jeff said. “If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army we wouldn’t have food – it’s fresh, it’s good and it’s hot. We are thankful for The Salvation Army.”

Lt. Preston Lewis, a Salvation Army pastor from Gainesville, has been in Live Oak since Tuesday helping residents adjust to a “new normal.” He said The Salvation Army will continue to distribute cleanup kits and meals in Suwannee County for the next five days.

“Right now, some of these people don’t have a home to go to,” he said. “We just want to be there for them, offer a hot meal and an encouraging word.”

On Thursday, Lewis met with Kristina Weatherspoon and her two young children. Kristina recently purchased a mobile home. It was lost in the flood.

“We were told (Tropical Storm Debby) would just be a little storm,” she said. “I thought ‘great, we need the rain.’ The flooding was so bad; we couldn’t get in our homes.”

Although the family’s circumstances are challenging, Kristina said they remain grateful.

“It’s not easy at all,” she said, “but we are thankful for what we have – three Salvation Army meals a day and a cot to sleep on.” 

The Salvation Army plans to start case work for disaster assistance in Wakulla county, said Capt. Julio Da Silva, Salvation Army corps officer for Tallahassee.

He said he is seeing a big need for cleaning supplies. The Salvation Army has distributed almost 300 cleanup kits since dispatched to Wakulla county Monday. They could transition from response to recovery soon.

“Cleaning supplies and water, that’s what people need the most,” Da Silva said.

He said The Salvation Army will assess the needs in Panacea and Sopchoppy today. The disaster team will probably be in those communities for the next five days.

“We will be here until there is no longer a need,” he said. 

Since Saturday, Tropical Storm Debby has dumped more than 20 inches of rain in some Florida communities, flooding roads, highways and thoroughfares. 
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.

For more information about how The Salvation Army is responding to Tropical Storm Debby and other disasters, please log on to You can also follow @salarmyeds, @salarmyfla, @salarmyflaeds or search “Salvation Army Florida Division” on Facebook to access the latest information.

The Salvation Army asks people who want to help those affected by disaster to visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Monetary donations are needed to meet survivors’ most immediate needs.  A $100 donation can feed a family of four for two days, provide two cases of drinking water and one household cleanup kit, containing brooms, mops, buckets and cleaning supplies.

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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