‘I’d Rather Not Leave’ – Savannah Salvation Army Resident Helps in Relief Effort

Savannah, GA (September 5, 2019) – For 119 years, the red shield of The Salvation Army has been a symbol of hope and help to the people of Savannah, Georgia. Through the good times and bad, The Salvation Army in Savannah has been a steady and consistent fortress of refuge for those experiencing personal and natural disasters in life.

Savannah is located on the upper Georgia coast, nestled comfortably just before the South Carolina state line. It has endured its share of hurricanes over the years, but when Hurricane Dorian mushroomed into the second most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record and set it course toward Georgia’s largest coastal city, The Salvation Army put their emergency disaster services in high gear.

“Hurricanes are unpredictable, so it’s best to be prepared if one is headed your way,” says Major Paul Egan, The Salvation Army Savannah Corps Officer, “Dorian was a powerful storm and we help during these times by providing feeding, hydration and emotional and spiritual care to Emergency Operations Centers, disaster responders, and evacuees.”

Ahead of Hurricane Dorian, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp extended a state of emergency to 21 counties in South Georgia and declared a mandatory evacuation for individuals living east of I-95 in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh Counties. Among the evacuees were sixty Savannah Salvation Army rehabilitation center shelter residents who were evacuated to The Salvation Army’s shelter in Augusta…except for Bobby Harding. Bobby did not want to leave – he wanted to help.

Bobby is a barber by trade from Vidalia, Georgia, but at age 50, years of substance abuse had taken their toll and he found himself looking at a parole situation when he was given an opportunity to be part of The Salvation Army’s Corps Salvage and Rehabilitation Center in Savannah, Georgia. The CSRC is a Salvation Army ministry that helps those facing the challenges of drug and alcohol abuse rise above their circumstances.

“The Salvation Army has been such a blessing to me,” says Bobby, “When the evacuation order came, I just did not want to go. There are a lot of people in this world who need help, and I wanted to be there to help these people – to show them that somebody cares.”

Bobby and a few others from The Salvation Army’s Savannah rehabilitation center shelter program joined the dedicated Salvation Army officers and staff who stayed behind to serve their community in the face of the potential destructive forces from Hurricane Dorian.

“Bobby was always there with a smile, ready to do whatever was needed,” says Linda James, Business Director for The Salvation Army of Savannah, “He helped load and unload trucks, he helped feed evacuees, and pushed those in wheelchairs to help them during the evacuation process.”

Each day, in Salvation Army locations around the world, lives like Bobby are being transformed. Thanks to The Salvation Army, they discover a personal relationship with God, a deeper meaning to their existence, and a foundation of values.

“Bobby is a great example of what The Salvation Army can do in a person’s life,” says Major Egan, “Hurricane Dorian may have brushed by us this time, but we will be ready for whatever the next hurricane brings, and if it comes by anytime soon, I’m sure Bobby will be there with us again, serving our community in their in time of need.”

To date, The Salvation Army has served 6,000 meals, 8,100 drinks and 6,400 snacks to first responders and evacuees in 11 locations across Georgia located in Savannah, Augusta, Macon, Columbus, Douglas, and Waycross.

“Bobby and the rest of us will all be here to help evacuees as they return to Savannah,” says James.

Hurricane Dorian lashed out at the Georgia Coast as it passed by far enough offshore to spare Georgians from its full wrath. However, others were severely impacted by this year’s second Atlantic hurricane.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those impacted by this massive hurricane,” says Major Egan, “But I know that wherever people are impacted from this storm, The Salvation Army will be there.”

How you can help those impacted by Hurricane Dorian

The best way to help survivors and relief workers in a disaster is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.

To make a financial gift to support Hurricane Dorian relief:

  • Donate online: www.HelpSalvationArmy.org
  • Donate by phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
  • Donate by mail: The Salvation Army, PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301
    • Designate ‘2019 Hurricane – Dorian’ on all checks

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The Salvation Army of Georgia continues to provide feeding services and spiritual and emotional care to those impacted by recent severe tornados that struck in and around the areas of Columbus and Cairo, Georgia last Sunday.


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The Salvation Army: It’s About Others in Blakely, GA

BLAKELY, GEORGIA (October 15, 2018) — The year was 1993, and one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the U.S. had just laid waste to south Florida and the Keys. Steve and Karen West stood outside their now-demolished Miami home realizing life as they had known it was gone. Hurricane Andrew cut a swath of devastation and harsh reality across the lives of millions of people. As Steve looked around, he noticed a Salvation Army truck serving food in the area and started to walk toward it.

“I remember it like yesterday,” says Steve. “What a great sight to see. I thought, ‘how wonderful it was that someone was thinking to do something like this, at a time like this, for us.’”

The devastation to their home motivated Steve to take another job with his employer, Delta Airlines, in Atlanta, Georgia. Life went on for Steve and Karen; their children grew up, graduated from college and got married. But, Steve never forgot that Salvation Army truck and the kindness of people he did not know who would brave the dangers of a disaster zone to venture out to help those in need. Back in those days, Steve had many good words for those Salvation Army people.

Today, on one of the few main street corners in Blakely, Georgia, sits another Salvation Army truck parked in a convenient corner of a large store parking lot. Most of the electricity in the small southwestern Georgia town is out. Just a few days before, Hurricane Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S., had devastated the Florida panhandle with such force it was almost classified a category-five hurricane. The hurricane’s massive impact carried through Florida, into South Georgia and eventually over the little town of Blakely with the rage of a category-three hurricane.

Streams of people approach The Salvation Army canteen (a mobile feeding unit) in the parking lot corner to get warm meals and drinks in quantities sufficient for their families. Words of kind appreciation mixed with stories of hardship and worry fill the air.

“I came down here to help my 93-year-old grandmother,” says a woman carrying away a stack of prepared meals and a bag of drinks. “Our electricity is out and these meals are a God-send. Bless you.”

Christine Drought stands outside the window of The Salvation Army canteen fully decked in red and white Salvation Army regalia handing out meals and drinks with a bright, friendly smile as fast as Trish Francis, inside the canteen, can hand them to her through the window. Christine and Trish are part of the Newnan, Georgia crew and have worked together on many disaster teams. They love what they do and they are extremely good at it.

“Our house is OK,” says another woman, “But, we don’t have electricity, so the food in the refrigerator is now bad.” Adding somberly, “And we lost five acres of timber.”

The man in line behind her listens in and interjects, “You don’t know how fortunate you are to have electricity, water and food until you don’t have it.”

“We prepared for a storm,” says another woman in line, “But, not this! Who would have thought a category-three hurricane would come through Blakely.”

“I used to be just like them,” whispers a man standing off to the side from behind a well-trimmed white mustache, “I know exactly what they are going through, and that’s why I’m here.”

It’s Steve West.

Now retired from Delta Airlines, Steve never forgot the goodness he found with The Salvation Army, and he, along with his wife, Karen, wanted to be part of that good work. She’s a vital part of the Newnan, Georgia team – right there in the canteen next to Trish, handing out meals to Christine.

“I love what The Salvation Army stands for,” says Steve. “Doing the most good. That about sums it up.”

It seems The Salvation Army has never been far from Steve and his family. After graduating college, Steve and Karen’s daughter, Stephanie, took a job as The Salvation Army Service Center Director for Newnan, Georgia. Steve now serves as the board chairman for Newnan, and loves giving back to others.

Steve and his dedicated, hard-working Newnan crew love serving together as a well-knit team. But, they will be the first to tell you it’s not about them – it’s about others. It’s about bringing hope and help to those people standing in line in front of their Newnan canteen full of worry and doubt about what the future holds.

“It’s all about serving others in their time of need,” says Steve. “I know, because I’ve been there.”

How to Help

The best way to help survivors and relief workers is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.

Donate By Phone:  1-800-725-2769  (1-800-SAL-ARMY)
Donate By Mail: The Salvation Army PO BOX 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301
Please designate 2018 Hurricanes – Michael on your check
Donate Online: helpsalvationarmy.org
Donate By Text:
Text STORM to 51555 to receive a donation link for easy mobile giving