by Nicolas White
In response to record-setting flash flooding in the St. Louis, Mo., region this summer, The Salvation Army set up five multi-agency resource centers (MARCs) throughout the metro area to offer resources to survivors. Coordinated and implemented through emergency disaster services, the centers offered food, water, financial support based on need, case management, clean-up kits, and emotional and spiritual care.
The flash floods in July broke the record for wettest 24-hour period in the city’s recorded history; one fatality was reported, and more than a hundred people were reported stranded. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared a state of emergency.
“This is one of those situations where a disaster hits everybody, regardless of what economic group you’re in, that you are hit hard like that,” said Major Kjell Steinsland, Midland general secretary and St. Louis Area Commander. “There are many people who have been in need.”
At the first MARC event, which included 30 organizations, religious entities and social service agencies, The Salvation Army served 800 families. It distributed more than 600 meals to the hungry crowd from its canteen inside the building, which at times was full of several hundred people during the five-hour event. Hot meals of chicken, macaroni and cheese, peas and carrots, and grilled hot dogs were served, as were snacks both savory and sweet, Chick-fil-A sandwiches, and bottles of cold water for people to stay hydrated in the scorching 90-plus degree heat.
According to Taedra Rutlin-Tobias, Midland divisional Pathway of Hope and quality assurance manager, the MARCs gave The Salvation Army the opportunity to touch the people who normally wouldn’t be able to come to our sites. “We want to be in the community and provide direct, immediate assistance for people who otherwise might not be able to get it,” she said. “A lot of us don’t have insurance or health to fix our homes and feed ourselves,” said Karen, who accepted flood cleanup supplies, a box fan, and a large broom from The Salvation Army. “You guys come along and help with the need…I appreciate it.”
Major Fred Mead, Midland divisional emergency disaster services emotional and spiritual care coordinator, spoke with two 91-year-olds whose basement had flooded. “It was about being able to sit and talk with them. Trying to find the good that comes out of a bad situation,” he said. “They had some estranged family members who are back in the picture now. Those relationships are mended because of this.”