Hurricane Irma left over 6 million Florida utility customers without power and many Floridians are looking for help to recover and replenish.
The Salvation Army has already served 10,000 meals in Northeast Florida since the storm scoured the peninsula last week.
Spokeswoman Shelley Henderson said the group serving Northeast Florida came from North and South Carolina with more than 40 staffers and volunteers.
Irma’s devastation extends beyond just the winds and rains of the hurricane. A loss of power often means an entire refridgerator of food can go to waste.
Lawanda Lowery went to the Salvation Army for the first time on Tuesday. Lowery lost electricity for seven days and estimates she lost $1,000 in food between two deep freezers and her kitchen refrigerator.
“We’re surviving though,” Lowery said. “This is the time that everybody needs to get together and become as one to help each other because you never know who needs who.”
Charles Wills lives in the area with his wife and four kids. He too lost everything in his fridge. Throughout the outage, they tried to save at least their meat, but ended up losing that as well.
Wills and his family are grateful for the Salvation Army and the services they provide at a time when residents can feel lost or forgotten.
“We felt like we were neglected,” Wills said. “Like people didn’t think about us or didn’t care about us.”
“In times of disaster, the Salvation Army’s main focus is food, water and emotional spiritual care for survivors,” Henderson said. “It was hard for them to buy the food the first time. The second time is next to impossible.”
After this team leaves, the local Salvation Army churches will take over social services for the community.
Randy Tiller, a Lieutenant in the Salvation Army from South Carolina, met a young woman on Tuesday who came to their van for a box of food.
“We talked for maybe a half hour,” Tiller said. “And when she left, she almost left her box, because it’s about more than the food, it’s about the human connection.”