The Salvation Army leaders making a difference in communities hardest hit by Tropical Storm Debby

June 28, 2012 - 12:16 PM EDT
Dulcinea Cuellar Kimrey
(813) 340-8465
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As residents go back to their homes and the floodwaters recede, The Salvation Army is on the frontlines of helping people heal in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby.  Salvation Army leaders from Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee are assisting residents with a hot meal, a bottle of water and an encouraging word. 

“There is a real need here and we are glad to serve,” said Capt. Julio Da Silva, corps officer for The Salvation Army in Tallahassee. “People are really grateful for our service.”

Da Silva and his team of three employees have been stationed in Sopchoppy and Panacea in rural Wakulla county since Tuesday.

To date, they have served more than 2,000 meals and 200 clean up kits, Da Silva said.

The Salvation Army plans to start case work for disaster assistance in Panacea next week and will concentrate its efforts in Sopchoppy, one of the hardest hit areas of flooding, he said.

“We were the first ones on the scene and gave residents food and water,” he said. “People saw the canteen and just started coming to us. They needed help and we are glad to be here.”

In Live Oak, where The Salvation Army is stationed at a shelter and also feeding off a canteen, the experience has been similar: Offering hope.

A canteen (kitchen on wheels) from Jacksonville is stationed at the Suwannee Coliseum Complex, a Suwannee county shelter.

Lt. Preston Lewis, Salvation Army corps officer from Gainesville, has been at the shelter since Tuesday. He offers hope to displaced residents and those having a difficult time with the flooding.

“Some people have never seen this much flooding,” he said. “We give them a hot meal, a bottle of water, then just sit and talk to them.”

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