Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 23, 2005
The Selma Times-Journal
Two Selma-Dallas County United Way agencies have earned the deep gratitude of citizens of Selma and Dallas County as front-line responders to Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina and Rita in the past year.
The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army have joined a broad spectrum of private and public efforts, now led by the Dallas Emergency Management Agency, to provide food and water, shelter, and many other things needed by community residents affected by the storms and those, more recently, streaming in from the Gulf Coast.
Hurricane Ivan caused more damage in the area than any storm in recent memory. Both last year and this year &045; in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita &045; the two agencies were on the front lines before, during and after the storms.
In particular, under the new program set up by VOAD &045; Volunteers Organized to Assist in Disaster &045; the Selma-based Black Belt office of the American Red Cross has the responsibility for setting up shelters and the Salvation Army for providing feeding.
The United Way was a key leader in the formation of VOAD, a consortium of agencies and organizations including the church community, to work together effectively when disaster strikes.
Last September, before Hurricane Ivan Hit, the United Way of Selma & Dallas County provided the Salvation Army, with a six-county service area, with $10,000 from reserve funds to ensure the availability of sufficient quantities of food and water and other needed supplies for Dallas County citizens. Using three portable Salvation Army canteens the Salvation Army served 50,000 meals to a total of 35,000 people in the six counties.
In the past year the SA has acquired its own canteen and, again, working with the Red Cross &045; this time much more briefly &045; handled emergency needs mainly for Gulf Coast evacuees.
Last year the local Red Cross chapter, which has a service area of four counties, set up four of its shelters in Selma and served 573 persons over the two-day period when emergency shelter was required. After the storm Red Cross put together one damage-assessment team and five family-service teams, covering all four counties served; 40 families were served in Dallas County.
This year, according to the Red Cross office, $1,003,102 was distributed for immediate cash relief assistance, more than 50 local hotel rooms provided to evacuees, in the process serving more than 1,320 families &045; a total of 3,100 persons.
(This article is part of an ongoing series in support of the 2006 United Way campaign which ends on Dec. 31, 2005. Funds to 15 member agencies will be distributed in 2006.)