• Cynthia Fuller

Rebuilding Hearts: The Salvation Army's Touch After the Storm

Oklahoma City, OK (May 11, 2024) In Northeast Oklahoma, fewer than 48 hours after a tornado desolated the small town of Barnsdall, where approximately 70 homes lay damaged or destroyed, residents were navigating the process of piecing their lives back together, chopping fallen trees, assisting neighbors, and more.

The Salvation Army has established a fixed feeding site at the community distribution center, where team members encountered residents seeking resources. Some were simply without power, while others were aiding family members who had lost everything. Michelle, a grateful community member, came in for a meal at The Salvation Army. A team member offered a prayer, which Michelle gladly accepted. Afterward, Michelle expressed her deep appreciation for the prayer with a hug, underscoring the impact of The Salvation Army's presence and the team member's compassion.

Another gentleman expressed joy at receiving food. He had been in contact with his brother shortly before the tornado struck but couldn't reach him afterward. Fortunately, they were able to reunite quickly, despite his brother losing his home and possessions. Despite their losses, tears welled in their eyes as they received sustenance and prayers for their families. Time and again, many were moved to tears after receiving a sympathetic ear and the offer of prayer.

During an earlier outreach in the neighborhood, distributing water, sandwiches, and snacks the team encountered Pat, an elderly woman alone with her dogs. The Salvation Army was the first to offer her refreshments.  She was unsure if any family would be able to visit. After spending time with her, offering prayers and encouragement, they departed, leaving her with a smile and hope for a brighter future.

When asked what it meant to serve on this disaster, Isaiah Stegall, from the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Command, responded, “To be able to come in and pray, and to share the love of Jesus when you see the destruction like this, it’s just an honor and a privilege to come in and encourage people when they are at their lowest.  To see the tears and raw emotion, I’m so thankful we can hold their hands and share hugs with them.”

Emotional and spiritual care is a large component of The Salvation Army’s care during disaster response.  They often meet people who truly want more than just food for their bodies, they want food for the soul.

Financial donations can be made at www.helpsalvationarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY to support response efforts. For the latest Salvation Army disaster information please go to www.disaster.salvationarmy.org and watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/salvationarmyaok/ and www.twitter.com/salarmyeds and www.twitter.com/salarmyedsaok.