Salvation Army leader reflects on Katrina response

Salvation Army leader reflects on Katrina response

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - They provided $71 million worth of assistance to the coast following Hurricane Katrina. The Salvation Army delivered help to thousands of storm victims.

For thousands of folks who came home to little or nothing in the wake of Katrina, along with those weary residents who rode out the storm, it was the Salvation Army that provided much-appreciated cold water, hot meals and a word of hope.

It was a Katrina flashback for many at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art on Friday. The Salvation Army canteen served lunch, as its local leader reflected on the hurricane response 10 years ago.

"People have told me that there is nothing like a Salvation Army hot dog after you've had nothing for a few days. Or you're cleaning out your freezer and there's nothing to eat," said Major Gary Sturdivant.

The major told the Katrina +10 lunch crowd his organization's storm response included hot meals and so much more.

"The distribution center, the emergency aid, the supplies, the volunteer village. The home repairs. Home repairs, home rebuilds. Over $18 million has been spent here in Mississippi rebuilding homes," he said.

A promotional video recalled the help offered in the wake of Katrina.

"One afternoon, we heard this little bell ringing and we looked out, and the Salvation Army canteen was coming down our street with hot meals.  And we just started crying," said the Biloxi woman, "Because at the time, we were thankful to have it. We only had MREs, so to have a fresh, hot meal was quite nice. And to know that other people cared."

Major Sturdivant reminded folks that, as the name implies, the first priority of the Salvation Army is preaching the Gospel.

"We believe if the Lord Jesus was walking the face of the earth today, he would be doing what the Salvation Army is doing. And that's offering hope to individuals, where they feel like they have lost everything," he said.

"When people tell me thank you, it's like I didn't really do anything, I did my job," said Salvation Army worker, Jenny Zufelt, on the video, "But when you see little kids walking around and they're like, 'We get to go home. Come see my new room!'  It's like I've done something. It's not just my job. It's great."

"We will be ready at a moment's notice. If anything hits us like that again, the Salvation Army will be there," Major Sturdivant promised.

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