Gonzales, LA (September 11, 2021) – Javier Esquivel first encountered The Salvation Army while serving in New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as a US Marine. Sixteen years later, he’s spent the last two weeks paying it forward while working on a Salvation Army mobile feeding unit, providing hot meals and encouragement to communities in southern Louisiana.
“I was deployed to New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina and we were responsible to patrol the streets. The city was flooded and there had been a bunch of looting,” said Esquivel. “I remember knocking on doors checking that elderly residents were safe. We got a lot of people out of there.”
Esquivel vividly recalls a Salvation Army mobile kitchen roaming the streets of New Orleans, serving meals to the Marines and other first responders. “There wasn’t much support down there and I’ll never forget seeing this little Salvation Army truck, from Temple, Texas, coming around the corner and feeding me and my guys. An older couple were in there dishing up the food with a smile and a ‘God bless you!’ And here I am, sixteen years later working with The Salvation Army, paying it forward to people in Louisiana. Amazing!”
Now, a Salvation Army employee in Houston, working at The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services warehouse, Esquivel was quick to volunteer to serve after Hurricane Ida. “I’m always ready to help in any way I can and was honored to be asked to serve in Louisiana,” said Esquivel. “Me and my mobile feeding unit partner Mr. Lowell fed a lot of people this week.”
Sadly, Esquivel received word that his Aunt passed away earlier this week and had to cut his deployment short in order to attend the funeral in McAllen, Texas. Plans were made for him to leave on Wednesday morning, however, on Tuesday evening he returned from a busy, fulfilling day of service and requested to stay one additional day. “I really wanted to serve the people just one more day and a Marine never leaves his post,” said Esquivel. “They have lost so much and need the food and help from The Salvation Army. I can travel back to Houston on Thursday and drive to the Valley on Friday.” The pair of dedicated volunteers from Houston served 1,500 meals on Thursday in Larose, LA.
The final day of The Salvation Army supply distribution at South Terrebonne High School (3879 LA-24, Bourg, LA, 70343) will take place on Saturday, September 11 from 9 AM- 1 PM. A mobile feeding unit will also be stationed at the High School serving hot meals. On Friday, individuals and families received 300 tarps, 2,555 2.5-gallon boxes of water, 3,240 hygiene kits, 1,240 food boxes, 274 infant supplies, and 3,896 cleanup kits.
“The supply distribution at the High School has been very successful,” said Alvin Migues, Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army in Texas. “It was very challenging to put this distribution together in such a short time. Logistics, staffing, and securing and moving product to Bourg needed critical and strategic thinking. I’ve got an excellent team who worked out all the details and with the help of some local law enforcement and contacts, we got it done.”
The Salvation Army continues to expand service south reaching the hardest hit communities. On Saturday, mobile units will be serving in Golden Meadow, Galliano, Shriver, Chauvin, Cut Off, Larose (2 units), Monagut, Houma, Bayou Blue, Lockport, Albany, Gray, and LaPlace. Service addresses can be found at https://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/aboutus/?IdaFacts. Clean up kits and breakfast boxes were delivered to Grand Isle on Friday as residents were allowed to return for the first time and assess damage to their homes.
The mobile units from the Gonzales IMT have served 169,305 meals, 70,468 drinks, and 43,324 snacks, making 11,739 emotional and spiritual care contacts since 8/31/21. The Salvation Army has served 289,986 meals, 161,166 drinks, and 74,805 snacks, across the state in response to Hurricane Ida, activating 49 mobile feeding units.
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