The Salvation Army of Augusta deployed Capt. Todd Mason, Rebecca Sullivan, Leia Eubanks, all of the Salvation Army, and volunteer Thomas Watkins to northeast Pennsylvania to the Wilkes-Barre and Sayre areas. Several small townships in that area were submerged by flood water and require a complete overhaul, including demolition and rebuilding, according to information provided by the Salvation Army. Residents are not able to return to their homes, and those who are able to work on theirs are doing so without electricity.
“It’s my first time doing disaster work, and seeing how it affected the families is devastating,” Sullivan said. “But many of them have high spirits even though they have lost everything and don’t have electricity to prepare meals.”
While Mason is at the command center serving as planning chief, the other members are “roaming out to the people” serving hot meals from a Salvation Army mobile canteen truck. They arrived Saturday evening and began serving Sunday, averaging between 250 and 350 meals per day.
“It’s been an experience,” Watkins said. “It’s a good feeling when we ride into a neighborhood and they see the truck and their faces light up. They are proud and were hesitant at first. But the devastation is great. It’s not easy for them to put everything they own out on the street for a bulldozer to sweep away.”
Eubanks added that although she didn’t know what to expect, she was surprised at how dusty and dirty everything was, including the air, which she described as “thick with sediment.”
“So it’s amazing to see the people working from sun up to sun down in this environment,” she said.
The effort is part of a larger statewide effort by the Salvation Army of Georgia, which has about 40 people providing assistance in northeast Pennsylvania. In addition to serving meals, Eubanks said the group from Augusta works at a Disaster Recovery Center, passing out furniture, gas cards, personal items and other necessities to help people start over.