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Serving The Survivors of Hurricane Irma

Area Commander Major Stan Colbert, Corps Officers Major Syung Young Lee, Captain Alan Gonzalez (our new International Corps Officer) and Lieutenant Karl Bush, along with staff member Phillip Redd, were deployed to Northeast Florida, near Jacksonville, as part of a large Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) team from the North and South Carolina Division, comprising ten mobile feeding units (canteens) and dozens of personnel. Major Colbert oversaw the operation and served as Canteen Coordinator from the Incident Management Command Center set up at Camp Keystone, a Salvation Army summer camp and conference center southwest of Jacksonville. Lt. Bush and Phillip Redd operated the canteen, and Major Lee and Capt. Gonzalez served as Emotional and Spiritual Care (ESC) Officers with other canteens.

Our canteen, in just over a week, served more than 1,000 meals and drinks and hundreds of snacks to hungry, thirsty survivors, many of whom had lost all they owned.

Major Colbert worked long hours in the Command Center and roved the multiple county area we were serving, making sure each canteen was serving needs and that their crews and ESC officers had what they needed to do an effective job.

Major Lee and Captain Gonzalez helped serve meals from the canteens they served with and spoke with, prayed with, and comforted dozens of survivors coping with the aftermath of the storm.

Lt. Bush and Mr. Redd cooked, served, and sweated in the canteen as temperatures each day were in the 90's as was the humidity. Lt. Bush also served as ESC officer for our Winston-Salem canteen, which spent most of its time in one of the hardest hit areas we served.

One of the extraordinary stories from our time of service in Florida involved Lt. Bush and Vernon, a survivor of the storm who lived in a small town called Middleburg. Their story is recounted on The Salvation Army national Disaster site. You may read it by clicking here . It is a powerful tale of The Salvation Army and the services we provide.

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