Hundreds Evacuate to Philadelphia
Hundreds of families displaced by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico have relocated to Philadelphia with little more than the clothes on their backs. The Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware is among several agencies in the city who are assisting these families as they rebuild their lives.
In response to the influx of Puerto Ricans evacuating to Philadelphia following Hurricane Maria, the city established a Disaster Assistance Service Center (DASC), located at Rivera Recreation Center at 5th Street and Allegheny Avenue. The Salvation Army has provided $97,600 of assistance to 424 families seeking assistance at the DASC in the form of $100 gift cards to Target (up to $300 per family).
Given the normal tropical weather of Puerto Rico, these families came to Philadelphia with a need for winter clothing (such as coats). In response to this need, The Salvation Army opted to provide gift cards to Target, as it’s a store readily available throughout the area, and offers the families accessibility to a wider selection of items to choose from.
The generous support received from Unidos Pa’PR, a coalition of local groups and elected officials formed to raise money for Hurricane Maria relief, has greatly helped to launch the gift card purchase program as well as the hiring of a Salvation Army disaster services caseworker stationed at the DASC.
Community generosity has also allowed The Salvation Army to provide some of the displaced families with the most need with additional assistance at Christmas.
“When you have disasters on the heels of the holiday season, we wanted to do what we could to help lighten the burden, especially when you have folks who have evacuated so far to a place that may be a little unfamiliar to them,” said Bob Myers, Emergency Disaster Services Director, The Salvation Army of Eastern PA & DE.
58 families came to The Salvation Army’s divisional headquarters at Broad and Fairmount in Philadelphia on December 21, where they received one $25 Walmart gift card per family , a $25 Target gift card per child, along with a small gift box containing chocolates, a hat and gloves for each child, ticket to the Philadelphia Zoo and other items for the holiday.
“It’s a nice gift from the generous donors across the city,” Bob said.
Providing Support Across Eastern PA
A number of The Salvation Army Corps Community Centers across the division have been providing support locally to displaced Hurricane Maria survivors in various capacities. Here are a few examples:
Lancaster – Assisted 17 families with clothing, food and supplies.
Lebanon – Assisted 80 families with food, clothing and supplies, provided counseling service to evacuees, and provided temporary shelter provided at corps for 3 nights. Corps is also working with a local committee on ongoing needs and resources.
Reading – Providing referral and voucher support to families.
Lehigh Valley – Participating in local coordination of evacuee support.
Supporting Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico
The Salvation Army has been providing community programs and social services in Puerto Rico since 1962. With 11 community centers already stationed across the island, it was uniquely prepared to handle disaster relief to the residents of Puerto Rico for both Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and continues to be actively involved in supporting the needs and recovery efforts on the island of Puerto Rico.
Total of 46 personnel from Eastern PA & DE were deployed to Puerto Rico for Hurricanes Irma and Maria, including Salvation Army officers, staff and volunteers. Four Philadelphia firefighters returned from a two-week volunteer deployment on December 21.
The most recent statistics for Hurricanes Maria & Irma Emergency Disaster Relief services in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands:
- Meals: 4,001,415
- Drinks: 1,230,513
- Snacks: 126,165
Thank you again for your support of The Salvation Army’s relief efforts for Hurricane Season 2017, which is The Salvation Army’s largest disaster response to date. In these dark times, The Salvation Army remains a light of help and hope, as well as a source of support and prayer to the island of Puerto Rico. We will continue to do this critical work, and are committed to reaching the reconstruction goals of the island. We’ve been on the ground before the first storm hit and we will remain in the impacted communities until all of the needs are met and beyond.