LOCUST GROVE, GA (January 23, 2023) – Serving with The Salvation Army often brings a closeness among officers, staff, and volunteers that makes the experience of serving others in need feel like family, whether that service is within the programs and services that The Salvation Army offers local communities throughout the year or during times of disaster. However, in Georgia, for Cindy Maddox, Service Center Director for The Salvation Army of Jackson County, and Sara Yarian, Service Center Director for The Salvation Army of Henry County, serving with The Salvation Army literally is a family affair.
“A mother wants joyful lives for her children,” says Cindy. “When I watch my daughter, Sara, working and striving to care for those in need, if lifts my heart…”
Recently, the mother-daughter team partnered together as part of a five-county Georgia Division emergency disaster response to serve those impacted by the devastating tornadoes that swept through central Georgia on January 14. Cindy and Sara are specially and specifically trained for disaster response service and were assigned a Georgia Division canteen (a mobile feeding vehicle) from which they would provide hot meals, snacks, drinks, and clean-up kits to the hard-hit city of Locust Grove where tornadoes ravaged through the Indian Creek trailer park.
In what seemed only a moment, the beautiful, tall White, Longleaf, and Loblolly pine trees that once shaded the pleasant, moderate-sized lots of well-adorned trailers in Indian Creek were swept up by the force of the tornadoes and turned against hundreds of their residents. What remained after the storm passed was a twisted confluence of nature and rubble from which none escaped. Numerous trailers were rendered a total loss by fallen trees that crushed and flattened them. All were left in the dark without power or water, but thankfully and miraculously nobody was seriously injured.
Cindy and Sara drove their Georgia Division canteen towards Indian Creek along miles of winding, tree-strewn byways passing county workers clearing roads of fallen trees and lineman restoring electrical services to shattered and overwhelmed neighborhoods. As they approached their destination, they could hear the whirring of generators that dotted the trailer park neighborhoods here and there. They stationed their canteen at the Indian Creek office and prepared to serve meals and distribute cleaning kits as an unpretentious woman with shoulder-length, silver hair quietly approached the canteen window.
“Are you serving food again today?” asked Gay Baker in a soft voice with her hands clasped behind her back.
Gay lives in trailer across the street from the Indian Creek office with her son, her daughter, and her daughter’s two teenage girls.
“We had a small freezer that I had just filled before the tornado hit, but that food is all spoiled now,” explained Gay. “The meals The Salvation Army provides helps out a lot – now I don’t have to worry about what to feed my family tonight.”
Gay went on to share how many of the residents just did not have money to stay in hotels and, with expenses from eating out and the future cost to replace spoiled food in their refrigerators, many financially strapped residents were staring at further economic stress.
“What little savings we had are gone now,” says Gay. “So, the meals, water, and assistance help out a lot – The Salvation Army is a Godsend.”
“My trailer is OK – it was not hit,” reassures Gay. “But we have no power and no water like everybody else. All these trailers use well water that needs electricity.”
The good news for Gay and her Indian Creek neighbors is that Cindy, Sara, and the rest of The Salvation Army disaster response teams will be distributing food, water, and other necessities, along with providing emotional and spiritual care, for as long as needed in Butts, Henry, Meriwether, Spalding, and Troup counties
To date for this disaster response, The Salvation Army has distributed 12,153 meals, 10,718 drinks, 11,555 snacks, 434 clean-up kits, 194 tarps, 223 toys for children, 94 cases of water, 66 hygiene kits, plus 345 blankets, and has provided 383 incidents of spiritual and emotional care.
In times of disaster, like the tornadoes that impacted Gay’s community, The Salvation Army is a trusted responder. With the generous support of communities, The Salvation Army can meet immediate and other needs during disaster responses. The best way to help those impacted by the recent Georgia tornadoes is to make a financial contribution. Financial contributions allow disaster responders to meet the specific needs of those impacted.
How You Can Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation.