In the aftermath of the devastating EF3 tornado that touched down in the East Hamilton area Friday, March 2, the Salvation Army is setting up shop inside Camp Joy, at 6620 Hunter Road in Harrison, in order to "do the most good" for area residents.
The Camp Joy command post will remain open through at least March 23 in order to supply three hot meals a day to residents impacted by the tornadoes. Those impacted can also pick up food boxes, cleaning supplies, toiletries and pet food inside Lennon Hall and the gymnasium on the campus of Camp Joy.
Volunteers will also take hot meals and food boxes to homes while people clean up.
"We usually stay in an area until it gets back to normal," said Salvation Army Chattanooga and Cleveland Area Command Maj. Al Newsome. "We are still working in Apison, Cleveland and Ringgold rebuilding with Habitat for Humanity from the last April 27th tornadoes. We are adding to projects now."
He said Short Tail Springs, Savannah, Ooltewah-Georgetown and Davis Mill roads and Island Cove Marina were all hit by the recent March 2 tornado.
"We are trying to create a joint recovery center to offer services to those affected by the tornadoes," Newsome said. "It is a one-stop shop for help from the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Samaritan Center at Camp Joy."
He said people can stop by to pick up free rakes, cleanup kits, tarps for roofs, garbage cans, lawn bags, goggles, sunscreen and work gloves. Residents are welcome to stop by and suggest other needs that can be met as well.
"We build case files in order to revisit people over the next year," said Newsome. "For the April 27th storm we raised $380,000 to date. As of last week, we had spent more than $600,000 [on April 27th storm-related recovery]. We are in the process of committing another $500,000 to communities from the last April storm."
He said donations are a major need in order to help the East Hamilton area recover.
"It's more efficient to get funds to purchase families what they need," said Chattanooga Salvation Army social media coordinator Jennifer Fisher. "The best way to give is through monetary donations by going to www.csarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by texting the word "storm" to 80888. That puts a $10 donation on the callers' phone bill and 100 percent of the donations go to relief efforts."
Newsome said the Salvation Army does not budget for storms, so monetary donations are appreciated.
He said for families impacted by the tornado without homeowner's insurance, the SA assists with rebuilding homes too. He said if the East Hamilton area is declared a national disaster area then federal funds will become available.
Fisher said from March 3-4 at Camp Joy alone the Salvation Army had served 3,183 meals, 3,287 drinks and provided emotional/spiritual care for 536 tornado victims. She said the Salvation Army sends people in need of clothing to Greenwood Baptist Church near the intersection of Snow Hill and Greenwood roads, which has numerous racks of clothing for tornado victims.
Lonnie, a resident in Harrison whose home was severely damaged welcomed a cup of hot coffee and said the Salvation Army was a "lifesaver this past weekend." Debbie, another homeowner in the Harrison area, cried while hugging a volunteer who prayed with her, said a news release from the organization.
March 30 and 31 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days inside the Salvation Army Citadel Corps, at 1019 N. Moore Road, disaster relief training classes will be held for citizens interested in serving meals to citizens impacted by recent storms. It is a free training with a free lunch provided to all trainees.
Disaster relief trainees will learn how to manage Salvation Army canteens, the warehouse and how to provide spiritual care. Many of the volunteers will end up serving hot meals on the grounds of storm relief areas.
To learn more, contact Chattanooga Salvation Army volunteer coordinator Sharica Smallwood-Ware at 756-1023.