Fires across the West: How The Salvation Army is responding


As fires burn across the West, many of The Salvation Army’s divisions are responding, providing meals, hydration and emergency supplies for first responders and fire evacuees sheltered in motels/hotels and congregate shelter facilities. Mandatory evacuations continue throughout the impacted regions. Air quality from Central California to northern Washington state ranges from “moderate” to “very unhealthy.”     

Over the past since Aug. 17, five Western divisions have provided more than 125,000 meals, with the daily meal count doubling since Sept. 10.  The Salvation Army is also providing recovery services, including disaster social services, gift cards, financial assistance, counseling and information referral as well as emotional and spiritual care. 

With more than a month remaining in the prime wildfire season, the divisions may continue to provide life-sustaining resources through October.  

As the fires are contained, the Army will transition from response activities to short-term recovery efforts, conducting client in-take in Local Assistance Centers and providing survivor assistance. Long-term recovery may include financial assistance for repair and rebuild efforts.   

Del Oro & Golden State Divisions (Northern California)
The Del Oro and Golden State divisions are providing short-term recovery services in several local assistance centers (LAC).  Eight corps facilities continue to prepare and deliver meals for evacuees housed in 35 hotel/motel shelters, providing 2,500 meals daily.  The Salvation Army’s Napa Valley Culinary Training Academy, which provides training for men and women affected by homelessness and addiction, is preparing evacuee meals daily.  Walmart gift cards and Door Dash online codes are also being distributed to sheltered evacuees.  

Disaster case workers are providing disaster social services at three LACs.  Within the first two days of providing services, The Salvation Army provided $32,000 in financial assistance to 168 households.  The divisions are collaborating with several community long-term recovery groups to develop recovery plans without duplication services.  To date, 36,000 meals have been distributed through direct meal service.        

California South Division
The California South Division has been responding to—and on stand-by for—several wildfires affecting Southern California. The division is responding to the Bobcat Fire that has burned 113,000 acres. Experts anticipate the fire will not be contained until the end of October.  Three corps are providing feeding services to survivors housed in hotel/motel shelters in Duarte, Lancaster and Palmdale. In addition to distributing cases of water and personal protection equipment (PPE), the corps are providing 1,700 meals daily.  

Cascade Division
The Cascade Division remains in response mode, providing emergency services for multiple fires affecting 10 counties across Oregon. At the request of the State of Oregon, The Salvation Army is feeding evacuees at its main state evacuation centers located at the Jackson County Expo near Medford, the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem and the Clackamas Community College in the Portland area. At the request of Clackamas County Office of Emergency Management, The Salvation Army is managing and coordinating all support services at the Clackamas RV shelter, three large outdoor parking lots sheltering RVs, tent campers and trailered boats.  

The division is also sheltering 485 evacuees in Salvation Army facilities, and is in the planning stage for short-term recovery services across the state, as well as long-term recovery services for survivors who require transition housing and resettlement.  To date, 72,000 meals have been distributed through direct meal service and shelf-ready food boxes.

Intermountain Division
The Bozeman (Montana) Corps responded to the Bridger Foothills Fire, providing emergency supplies, food vouchers, laundry vouchers, and gift cards at the fire evacuation center. The Billings (Montana) Corps responded to the Huff Fire, providing emergency supplies, gas cards and gift cards at the disaster resource center. 

Northwest Division
The Northwest Division is in recovery mode for three wildfire-affected communities.  In the Bonney Lake and Davenport regions, the division is meeting immediate needs and assessing its role in long-term recovery efforts.  In Malden, which was 80 percent destroyed, the division is participating in a multi-agency resource center to address immediate needs, as well as participating in a local long-term recovery group and establishing a disaster case management program for survivors.

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