Portugal Salvationists offer assistance after wildfires

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Salvationists in Portugal are providing assistance to people affected by wildfires that have killed at least 64 people and caused destruction across the Pedrógão Grande region, north-east of the capital, Lisbon.

Castelo Branco Corps Officers Captain Fagner Castanho and Lt. Liliana Vaz Castanho traveled to the affected region to assist. They took clothing to give out and some materials to set up recreational activities for the children.

“We arrived and drove around the center of the city. We found the city hall, which was apparently closed, and we found some people unloading a truck with clothes at a charity shop and we offered to help,” Fagner Castanho said. “In the end we found the responsible person and put ourselves at his disposal to help in any way we could.”  

Directed to city hall, they offered their services to the person coordinating relief efforts. He gave them the key to an official vehicle and a team of people. The captain took the corps vehicle and a team of nurses and psychologists to visit the villages affected by the fires. “We met people who had lost family members ‘and many elderly people were desolate,” he said. “It is a very sad situation.”

The Castanhos made contact with a relative of a corps member who lives in a small village. He said that 11 people had died in his village including his cousin, and another person was missing. Some families had lost everything including their houses and all their belongings.

The officers were asked to return to continue their work with the nurses and psychologists. They also plan to contact local councils to offer assistance. Castanho said the disaster will take a long time to recover from, with many people needing new houses.

Preparing to set out again, Castanho said, “We count on your prayers so that God will guide us and that we can be of help to his Kingdom.”

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