Baton Rouge, LA (September 4, 2021) – The Incident Command Post (ICP) in Gonzales, LA, is the staging point for 18 Salvation Army mobile kitchens that travel out to communities affected by Hurricane Ida delivering hot meals and encouragement to hungry residents each day. While the mobile units may be the face of the operation, there is a great deal of work going on in the background to make effective service delivery possible.
Each day begins early for the ten-person Incident Management Team, with a 7:30 AM briefing outlining the various tasks, operations, and schedule for the day. Staff positions include Incident Commander, Logistics Chief, Liaison, Finance & Admin, Volunteer Coordinator, Safety Officer, Planning Chief, Public Information Officer, Canteen Coordinator, Operations Chief, and Spiritual Care Officer. The mobile kitchen crews arrive in time for an 8:30 AM meeting after which the activity ramps up significantly in the command. A total of 51 staff and volunteers are actively involved in the current response.
“Our trained volunteers are assigned in pairs or teams of three to a full-size mobile kitchen or Rapid Response Unit,” said Lt. Armando Acosta, Canteen Coordinator and Salvation Army Officer at the Fort Worth Northside Corps. “After they receive their destination and meal count, teams are responsible to stock their units with all items needed for the long day of service. With 18 units in the command fleet the area is a hive of activity as the volunteers prepare for departure.”
The Southern Baptist Texas Convention Field Kitchen is an integral part of the feeding operation. Their staff prepare the food and load it into insulated containers ready for pick up by The Salvation Army crews. “The Baptist kitchen staff ensure that all the food is properly cooked and in the correct quantity for each unit to collect before they depart,” said Acosta. “We are grateful for this long-time partnership. With so many units deploying each day, we strategically schedule the departures depending on the distance they need to travel and how many meals they are expected to serve. It can become a little chaotic at times, but I assure you it runs like a well-oiled machine!”
As day five of service from the Gonzales ICP approaches, more than 15,000 meals are being prepared each day and served to residents of impacted communities in southern Louisiana. A second Salvation Army Command Post is based in New Orleans covering additional affected areas.
“We have a similar check list of tasks for our crews on their return to the command post each evening. They empty the trash, gas up their vehicles, and clean out the empty cambros ready for the next days food,” said Acosta. “After a couple of days, our teams have everything pretty much down. Our incredible volunteers and staff are trained, flexible, and hard-working people, committed to making a difference in the lives of those currently experiencing crisis.”
Other facilities in the command post include multiple campers and a bunk house for staff accommodation, a shower unit, a command unit, a storage area, and bathrooms.
The mobile units from the Gonzales IMT have served 54,202 meals, 36,353 drinks, and 15,109 snacks, and made 2, 927 emotional and spiritual care since Tuesday, August 31. The Salvation Army has served 88,075 meals, 64,374 drinks, and 28,780 snacks, across the state in response to Hurricane Ida.
Service continues in the following communities on Saturday, September 4: Hammond (2 units), Houma (3 units), Raceland, Dulac, Livingston Parrish, La Place, Bayou Dularge, Bayou Blue, Cut Off, Larose, Napoloenville (2 units), Chauvin, and Sorrento.
To make a financial donation to support ongoing Hurricane Ida relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. For the latest disaster response information, go to www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org and watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/salvationarmytexas/ and www.twitter.com/salarmytxAbout The Salvation Army