“We are sending out our emergency vehicle and a small team to deploy to the New Jersey area to provide support for the hurricane that is expected to make land tomorrow. From this location we will be sending a two-man team, but they will be joining up with volunteers and other emergency vehicles from Ohio and traveling as a unit,” said Lt. Mark Ferreira of the Salvation Army in Portsmouth.
The national Salvation Army will have emergency teams responding to locations all along the East Coast. The Salvation Army in Huntington, W.Va., is now heading to parts of North Carolina.
“That’s where they’re getting hit now, and we’re going to see a big impact in New Jersey and New York area starting tomorrow. That makes me worry even more, because it’s such a high population area and it’s not prepared for this kind of hit,” Ferreira said.
Steele and Esham were getting ready Saturday morning for a 13-hour drive to the staging area in northeastern Pennsylvania, before moving to another staging area in Hunterdon County, N.J. They will remain deployed in New Jersey for one week.
The Salvation Army truck will be able to serve 200 meals an hour.
Steele of Portsmouth is a newlywed. He has only been married for a month. He said his wife is nervous about his trip, but he’s been through this before and he knows he’ll be safe. In the 1980s, Steele was part of the emergency response to the forest fires in Jackson County and flooding in West Virginia.
“I feel it is my commitment not only to God and to the Salvation Army, but I also feel good doing these things and helping people. That’s been part of my life all along, so why shouldn’t I do it in my old age?” Steele said.
Esham of Quincy, Ky., agreed that they were doing God’s work to make life easier for people living in the disaster areas. Several years ago he was also part of the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.
“Man has to help other people. If you help others, you do good; and doing good is supposed to be a part of life. You take and you give. Now it’s time to give,” Esham said.
Ferreira said emergency response is all part of the Salvation Army’s mission. Originally from New Jersey, Ferreira was part of the emergency response to New York City after the World Trade Center attacks in September 2001.
Even though only two people are riding on the Salvation Army truck, Steele said there is still one way people in Portsmouth can help.
“Just pray that we have a safe trip and that the stuff that’s happening back east isn’t too terrible.”
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.