When tornadoes swept across southern Indiana on March 2, 2012, the path of destruction was as clear on the ground as from the sky. Uprooted trees, crumpled school buses and bare foundations spoke of the powerful storms that devastated communities like Henryville, Pekin, Marysville and Borden.
The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services was one of the first to arrive on the scene, ready with food, tents and volunteers. EDS ensured that displaced families had food and shelter. Utility workers repairing power lines in the snow were given hot meals. Locals were able to quickly and easily apply for assistance at Disaster Relief Centers. During the ensuing weeks, The Salvation Army coordinated tornado relief collection efforts with major media outlets and organizations around the state, gathering the volunteers and resources necessary to bring hope and healing to affected communities.
The efforts of The Salvation Army have continued in the nineteen months since the 2012 tornadoes. The faith-based partnership V-ROC (Volunteers Rebuilding Our Community) was formed to help homeowners who were either under-insured or completely without insurance. The Salvation Army and other faith-based organizations raised the funds necessary to completely rebuild 14 homes and repair another 267 properties. Over $500,000 was raised during a WAVE 3 Tel-a-thon, with additional individual donors and corporate sponsors stepping in later to aid this massive effort.
The Salvation Army’s long experience with disaster recovery was put to good use as the local and statewide offices worked together to act as the financial agent for V-ROC’s rebuilding efforts. Jerry Larson, The Salvation Army’s Director of Disaster Services in Indiana, worked with the New Albany Corps to guide the 10,000-plus volunteers who came to serve God and their community in a time of great need.
On October 9, Major Stephen Kiger joined representatives of the V-ROC partner organizations to dedicate the final rebuilt house, located in one of the hardest hit communities, Marysville. The new homeowners were tearful as they witnessed first-hand the tremendous power of God’s work through the humble efforts of neighbors, businesses and strangers from across Indiana.
The scars of March 2, 2012 still pepper the landscape, but hope and laughter has returned to these communities. As The Salvation Army continues to do the most good for those in the greatest need, we remember the words of our founder, William Booth:
Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again–until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.