On May 6, 2014, The Salvation Army of Central Georgia joined with other local, state, and volunteer agencies in the biennial Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) hurricane exercise (HURREX-2014) in Macon, GA.
Captain Eugen Perry and volunteer Jonathan Holland of Warner Robins load mobile canteens for HURREX 2014 disaster exercise.
In the exercise, as it would in a real-life situation, The Salvation Army provided nourishment and hydration from mobile canteens. Over 200 meals, including a vegetarian option, were provided to mock survivors, first responders, and volunteers.
Captain Eugene Perry of Warner Robins, Lieutenant Joshua Hinson of Griffin, and Sergeant James Allen of Dublin brought canteens and volunteers from their corps to join Area Commander Alan Hill in Macon to assist with the exercise.
According to exercise planners, the exercise simulated landfall along the Georgia coast of “Hurricane Nicolai,” a catastrophic Category 3 hurricane with 111-129 mph winds.
Director Charley English of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA) said, “Georgia is vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms and it only takes one serious storm to devastate an area. HURREX 2014 allows GEMA and our emergency response partners to practice our ability to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a tropical weather disaster in Georgia.”
The purpose of the HURREX 2014 was to demonstrate local, state, and volunteer agencies’ ability to simultaneously set up, staff, and operate emergency operations center functions and support services at a reception center, evacuation shelters, a pet shelter, and an aviation support operations center.
“We all like to get things right the first time,” said Major Alan Hill, Area Commander for The Salvation Army of Central Georgia. “During this exercise we had the opportunity to practice our skills in disaster service. This has been a good learning experience, as we see first-hand how teamwork is necessary in providing assistance to the masses.”
Leading The Salvation Army HURREX 2014 exercise efforts in coordination with GEMA was Georgia Divisional Emergency Disaster Services Director Major Jim Smith. A well-experienced veteran to The Salvation Army and to Emergency Disaster Services, Major Smith drew on his 45 years of TSA service to ensure a successful collaboration. “We exercise together so we will work together effectively when a real disaster occurs,” said Major Smith.
According to Major Smith, The Salvation Army is an integral part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Essential Service Function #6 (ESF6). The Salvation Army’s primary mission in response to approaching or existing disasters would be to serve survivors and then first responders with nutrition, hydration, and emotional and spiritual encouragement.
The Salvation Army shield, and the words “Doing the Most Good” it is known for, are a promise to those it serves that it will be there for them when needed most. Sometimes doing the most good takes a little foresight, and it’s good to know The Salvation Army is ready and prepared to live up to its promise and take action whenever the need arises.