Photo: A Salvation Army canteen and crew from Tulsa OK feed emergency responders near St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, MO.
The Salvation Army's Central Territory is responding to tornadoes that brought devastation across the country's central states. Communities in Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota and Wisconsin were particularly badly hit.
Residents of Joplin, Missouri, are recovering from a tornado that hit on Sunday 22 May, killing at least 122 people. A further 750 people were injured by the deadliest single tornado to hit the region in 60 years. The Salvation Army has sent four mobile feeding kitchens to Joplin, each capable of serving several thousand meals to residents and first responders. The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network has also arrived in Joplin to assist survivors in locating loved ones through a ham radio network.
A fundraising drive by the Kansas City Chiefs American football team included a request for people to donate crates of bottled water that will be distributed by The Salvation Army in Joplin.
In the neighbouring state of Kansas, one person is known to have been killed by a tornado that tore through Reading on the night of Saturday 21 May. The next day, two Salvation Army feeding kitchens – one stationary and one roaming – served meals, snacks and cold drinks to more than 250 people. The kitchens will continue to serve hundreds of meals each day through the rest of the week.
Salvation Army caseworkers are providing financial aid to tornado survivors to help with immediate needs such as food, clothing, medicine, shelter, bedding and baby products.
More than a dozen members of a Kansas motorcycle club have volunteered their services to The Salvation Army to help with clean-up efforts in Reading.
The Salvation Army's work in both Joplin and Reading is being boosted by support from the KSHB-TV, Kansas City's NBC Action News Station. All this week phone lines, manned by Salvation Army volunteers, will be open every day from 5-7 pm to accept donations. On Monday 23 May alone, NBC Action News viewers generously donated US$59,300.
Mike Vrabac, vice president and general manager for KSHB/KMCI-TV, says: 'The station was pleased to partner with The Salvation Army and provide a vehicle for our loyal viewers in the Kansas City area to help our neighbours in Joplin and Reading. We'll be working together all week with The Salvation Army to raise funds and help anyway we can.'
In Minnesota, tornadoes brought devastation to northern Minneapolis, Fridley and St Louis Park. Damage caused by uprooted trees is making travel difficult but three Salvation Army mobile kitchens and crews are assisting families and emergency workers.
Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) teams also responded in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where a tornado on Sunday 22 May damaged more than 200 homes and businesses. A mobile feeding unit was deployed and clean-up kits and vouchers for emergency lodging and clothing were provided to families impacted by the tornado and storm.
'Our teams will be here providing food, emergency shelter and cleaning supplies until recovery is complete,' says Terri Leece, Salvation Army Director of Disaster Services in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.