• Kurt Watkins

Ten Years After Katrina, The Salvation Army Continues to Serve the Gulf Coast

Photo: After Hurricane Katrina, a Salvation Army canteen becomes an impromptu feeding site on a New Orleans highway.

Alexandria, VA (August 19, 2015) – The Salvation Army continues to be a source of hope, stability and service to the residents of the Gulf Coast ten years after the most active and expensive hurricane season in U.S. history. With a presence in every ZIP code in America, The Salvation Army was uniquely positioned to support survivors during and immediately after the storm, and for years following.

The 2005 hurricane season – which included Katrina, Rita and Wilma, three of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history – spurred The Salvation Army’s largest emergency disaster response ever in this country. Generous donations totaling $382 million were received to support survivors of the storms; 100 percent of these funds have been disbursed.

“This was an unprecedented relief effort and would not have been possible without a generous outpouring of support,” said Commissioner David Jeffrey, National Commander of The Salvation Army. “It has been an honor to serve the people of the Gulf Coast and partner with them to rebuild their vibrant communities.”

Initial Response

Upon impact of the storms, Salvation Army emergency disaster workers and volunteers were on hand to deliver relief in the form of shelter, food and hydration, and emotional and spiritual care. A total of $157 million was spent on immediate response efforts that included:

  • 178 canteen feeding units and 11 field kitchens brought in from across the country
  • More than 5.6 million hot meals and 8.2 million sandwiches, snacks and drinks
  • 178,313 cleaning kits and 235,229 food boxes (groceries)
  • 282,000 emergency disaster assistance cases registered
  • Emotional and spiritual care for more than 275,000 individuals
  • Direct financial aid, in the form of gift cards and housing/utility assistance
  • Equipment and transportation for Salvation Army disaster personnel
  • Assistance to more than 2.6 million survivors in the affected region

Long-Term Recovery

The Salvation Army transitioned to long-term recovery in January 2006, allocating $225 million. Long-term recovery services focused on case management, reconstruction and support for volunteer rebuild teams. Financial assistance programs also helped with home repair, job training and other initiatives to aid long-term recovery in communities. In this phase, The Salvation Army helped:

  • Provide emergency relief at Disaster Assistance Centers, which served as information hubs for clients and as distribution points for food and clothing.
  • Establish eight Major Distribution Centers along the Gulf Coast, where more than 106,100 preregistered Salvation Army clients could go to receive donated goods, such as furniture and large appliances.
  • House more than 8,000 disaster workers at Salvation Army-sponsored volunteer villages, representing 56,000 nights of lodging for recovery teams.
  • Contribute to long-term community recovery efforts, meetings and committees throughout the region.
  • Register 84,000 cases that assisted 350,000 people with repair, rebuilding, furnishings and supplies.
  • Partner with Habitat for Humanity, provided funds to support the construction and rehabilitation of more than 400 homes and sponsoring the 2008 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. 
  • Help more than 5,000 people who became unemployed as a result of the hurricanes receive job training and re-employment services, in cooperation with partner organizations.

As part of its overall recovery program in New Orleans, The Salvation Army initiated a neighborhood-based disaster recovery and economic resilience initiative called EnviRenew. Through this initiative, The Salvation Army supported new home construction, green home sustainability and technology, and eco-friendly energy programs in the hard-hit Broadmoor, Riverview and St. Anthony’s neighborhoods. The program sparked a broader conversation about disaster resiliency that culminated in a Resiliency Summit on August 26, 2010.

The Salvation Army was one of a number of charitable social services organizations participating in the Katrina Aid Today disaster case management program. This program provided long-term recovery assistance to hurricane survivors in impacted areas of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi and to evacuees who relocated across the country to places including Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington.

An Ongoing Presence

Continuity of social services is critical to the ongoing health of local communities. Volunteers, staff and Officers have worked to restore basic social service programs to the Gulf Coast – reopening homeless shelters, community centers, a rehabilitation center, children’s programs and church services.

Facilities include:

  • A new Emergency Disaster Services center in Jackson, MS, featuring an emergency operations center, 17,000 square feet of warehouse space, a state-of-the-art amateur radio station, and a vehicle yard for a fleet of specialized disaster equipment and vehicles.
  • Reopened corps, social services programs, Center of Hope homeless shelter, Adult Rehabilitation Center and family store in New Orleans.
  • A 52,000-square-foot Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Biloxi, MS, to replace Salvation Army facilities lost during Hurricane Katrina, built on the site of one of the volunteer villages that The Salvation Army operated for Katrina aid workers.
  • Reopened corps, social services programs, homeless shelter and family store in Gulfport, Pascagoula and Lucedale, MS. The Salvation Army is acquiring property in Gulfport to develop a new Center of Hope housing program for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Because responding to catastrophic disasters takes a significant toll on responders, The Salvation Army has invested in local disaster programming and resiliency programming including training, equipment and infrastructure, emotional and spiritual care, and increased post-deployment follow-up services for disaster workers. Additional community-based needs have been served through a variety of local programs, services and infrastructure projects.

“The Salvation Army is a long-term part of the community in the Gulf Coast, and everywhere in the United States where human need exists,” said Commissioner Jeffrey. “After disasters large or small, personal or communal, people rely on us to help them get back on their feet. This is a responsibility we take extremely seriously. It is our mission and our calling.”

For more information about the Katrina anniversary, please visit katrina10.org.  For more stories of The Salvation Army's work during the storm, please read this month's special online edition of The Salvation Army's War Cry magazine or take an historical look at our response and read 2006's When the Winds Died Down.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 135 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter for the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. Eighty-two cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, visit SalvationArmyUSA.org.