Salvation Army Responds to Tsunami Waves

The Salvation Army in south-eastern Asian and coastal India are operation around the clock to respond to the people affected by the damage and devastation caused by tsunami waves on Sunday.

Tsunami waves as high as 20-30 feet swept over shorelines of Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Sir Lanka after being triggered by the fifth biggest earthquake since the last century, reporting a magnitude of 9. The earthquake had originated near the Sumatra region of Indonesia.

Death tolls as of Monday have risen close to 24,000 with half of fatalities suffered by children, according to MSNBC News.

The Army said it was unexpectedly called into service after reports of tsunami waves rolled in.

According to the Salvation Army, its volunteers have been feeding over 1,200 people in the Kanyakumari and Muttom areas in India and have set up Army facilities to sever as mass feeding sites and emergency shelters throughout the region. Salvation Army corps or community churches and institutions are operating around the clock to provide shelter, food and clothing to families who consider themselves fortunate to be alive.

Additionally, the group has dispatched its assessment staff members to join government and other relief agencies in surveying the damage of the areas and determine the pressing needs of the affected communities.

The southern east shoreline of India has been reported to be hit most severely by the tsunami waves, which can pick up speeds of 600 mph. Among the communities in that area, Andaman-Nicobar Islands and Tamil Nadu, a Christian fishing community with many families and children, have estimated that 3,000 people were killed while the city of Chennai reports over 200 dead with hundreds more missing, according to the Army.

Sri Lanka, a country located over 3,000 miles from the central region the earthquake hit, was not spared from the effects of the tsunami. The government has put out an urgent plea for assistance since clean drinking water, tents, food, clothing and medicines are all in short supply. The hospitals have been overwhelmed with the number of severely injured survivors while senior government officials say they fear widespread disease will ensue if aid is not immediately provided.

Colonel Edward Daniel reported from Colombo, "We are concerned about people on the east coast and in the south especially. Our assessment team has already left Colombo to visit the southern coastal areas taking initial relief supplies of food items and water. Our emergency coordinator has requested that all Army centres in the coastal areas accommodate displaced people, provide them with cooked food and clothing, and offer counselling as necessary."

Meanwhile, government officials and relief agencies in all affected regions must figure out how to properly dispose of the thousands of dead decaying bodies to avoid health concerns.

The Emergency Services section at The Salvation Army's International Headquarters (IHQ) is coordinating the release of resources for disaster relief in these the affected areas.

Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio
Network

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) is also helping people locate loved ones missing in the regions.

SATERN is a HAM radio team that can help families and emergency workers find each other when a disaster wipes out all other forms of communication.

National director of SATERN Major Pat McPherson told Disaster News that the SATERN is also helping representatives from the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Association (DERA) locate missing Indian HAM radio operators between India and Sumatra.

By listening to certain radio frequencies, some SATERN members have been successful in establishing contact with the missing members from the National Institute for Amateur Radio India (NAIR), reported McPherson.

McPherson added that anyone seeking information about a missing relative in the tsunami-affected areas can fill out “Health and Welfare Information Request” the request form available on the SATERN Web site (www.satern.org).

After receiving the request, according to McPherson, Quent Nelson, the health and welfare coordinator for the Army’s SATERN, will then use his radio-internet computer, called Echolink, to see which HAM radio operators are online in the areas he needs to contact to find the loved one.
Said McPherson, "We will give it our best shot.”

Efforts in United Kingdom

In the UK, The Salvation Army's airport chaplains will be handing out winter clothing to men, women and children who had lost everything from the tragedy. The Salvation Army of the United Kingdom is requesting that any donations for the effort be made at the secure donations web site (www.salvationarmy.org.uk/give), designated "South Asia Disaster Fund."