NEWNAN, GA (March 29, 2021) – Hope is an amazing thing. It can take an individual or a family by the hand and lead them out of the depths of despair. It can raise up a community out of unthinkable disaster. And it can bless us with immeasurable spiritual riches in the midst of desperate times.
The Salvation Army’s Newnan Emergency Disaster Rapid Response Unit (RRU), managed by veteran Disaster Response Team Leader Steve West, was strategically stationed at a critical crossroad in Newnan, GA in the midst of the destructive residue caused by the recent EF-4 tornado that wreaked havic in the Newnan community last Thursday night. The RRU was set to distribute desperately needed food, cleaning kits, and storage boxes to those impacted by the severe storms. As word of The Salvation Army’s presence disseminated throughout the community, people came to the RRU from all directions to get desperately needed help.
From far up a hill on an adjacent street, a man of simple means and quiet demeanor slowly made his way toward the truck with the Red Shield that represented hope in his desperate situation. The hardship of the last few days wore heavily on his face and in his eyes.
On a day of unforeseen and unapparelled disaster in his normally quiet life on Calhoun Street in Newnan, Georgia, for Tony Boozer, hope came by way of The Salvation Army.
“Thank you for The Salvation Army for coming and doing something like this for us,” Tony said in a hushed undertone.
“I’m trying to get my nerves back after seeing what I seen. I saw death coming for me. I’m just shell-shocked right now.”
A few days ago, Tony stared straight into the face of the tornado as he stood on his front porch gaping at the catastrophic whirlwind as it came across the railroad tracks roaring like a train toward his house.
“It had this green glow with it!’ he exclaimed.
As Tony continued his harrowing story, he says he watched as the tornado jumped across the railroad tracks and grabbed his neighbor’s house off its foundation—throwing its roof into a neighbor’s yard.
Tony waved his arms to simulate the movement of the tornado as he continued explaining what he witnessed. “I saw it coming toward me swirling and swirling and swirling and getting bigger and bigger, snapping limbs off trees like they were twigs.”
The tornado grabbed and uprooted a pecan tree that was in Tony’s front yard since the 1960’s and slammed it to the ground like it was nothing. At that moment, Tony snatched up his dog and jumped behind the refrigerator—as the tornado dismantled his home.
In a moment of human empathy honed over 60 years of Emergency Disaster response experience, The Salvation Army’s Major Bert Tanner (retired), asked Tony if he could pray for him. With words of comfort and encouragement, Major Tanner lifted Tony’s life and his situation to the only One who can provide the peace that passes understanding.
Major Tanner and the RRU team made sure Tony was provided with all the provisions he could carry and assured him they would continue serving the area where he was located. In a lighter moment of reflection on the events of the past few days, and with a renewed abundance of hope he didn’t have an hour before, Tony said, “I was looking for some more firewood, but not this much!”
"We are called to bring Hope to people," said Captain Jason Smith, The Salvation Army’s Incident Commander for the Newnan disaster relief team. "Today, we are here to bring hope to the people of Newnan, but a disaster can strike anywhere at any time."
“Our message to those impacted by the storms of life – wherever and whenever they strike – is a simple one,” said Captain Smith, “be encouraged – help is on the way.”
In times of disaster, The Salvation Army is a trusted responder. With the generous support of communities, The Salvation Army can meet immediate needs during disaster responses. The best way to help relief workers and those impacted by the recent Georgia storms is to make a financial contribution. Financial contributions allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of those impacted.
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