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Cots await guests at the 24-hour Warming Center in Sullivan, Indiana during January’s record cold temperatures.

The tornadoes that swept across the Midwest in November were just the beginning of the wild weather that Indiana has experienced over the last two months. With more below zero temperatures ahead and a stream of broken weather records behind us, many Hoosiers are ready for an early spring.

The Salvation Army is a unique organization, one that addresses physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people during both personal crises and large-scale disasters. When an organization devotes itself to the idea of “doing the most good,” there is no such thing as a day off. The recent string of extreme weather has highlighted just how important the disaster response, social services and volunteer arms of The Salvation Army are when entire communities are affected by the unexpected.

Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) stepped up to the plate after November’s tornadoes, heading to communities like Washington, Lafayette and Kokomo to provide for immediate needs like food, hydration and shelter and long-term needs like social assistance. Donations earmarked for disaster relief went straight toward Walmart gift cards to replace lost food, stocking the canteens that fed emergency workers and volunteers, and tarps to prevent water damage to homes with significant roof damage.

December brought with it another round of extreme weather, including flooding that affected many communities in southern Indiana. Once again The Salvation Army mustered its volunteers and resources to get families into shelters and motels and start the recovery process in flooded neighborhoods. The early winter also resulted in increased utility assistance needs in communities across the state.

Then January hit, and the temperatures plummeted to record lows right after a snowstorm dumped up to a foot of snow in much of the state. With wide-spread power outages and high temperatures that stayed below zero, Salvation Army Corps Community Centers across the state opened as Warming Centers. Those that could handle overnight guests stayed open 24 hours through the worst of this Arctic blast, while Service Extension Units in areas without Corps teamed up with local churches and authorities to provide supplies and volunteers at their own local Warming Centers.

As we look toward February, it’s tempting to ask ourselves, “What else could possibly happen?” It’s nice to know that no matter what the remainder of this winter throws at us, The Salvation Army will be right here, ready to serve and doing the most good.