Hope Force in Joplin, Missouri

May 26, 2011

sdsAll Hope Force Reservists are on standby for Joplin, Missouri, to join the response to the devastating May 22 tornado. "I cannot remember witnessing so many disasters in such a short space of time," recounts Cherie Minton, Co-Founder of Hope Force. "We now have our first wave of Reservists in place working alongside the Salvation Army. This kind of devastation never ceases to impact an individual ? no matter how many times you see it. It is overwhelming to see the human and material losses. Whole generations of hometown memories were wiped out in seconds. The need for emotional and spiritual care for the survivors, and even for the responders, is of utmost importance."

Reservists Rene and Marianne Lako were the first to arrive in Joplin joined by HFI staff members, Andrew and Glenda Bashor. "We had to take a two and a half hour detour to avoid more storm warnings on the way in," said Rene. "We drove through selkkkveral counties that had tornado warnings. We had to be very careful. The last six or seven miles of the trip, we witnessed total devastation ? trees torn in half, bark stripped off, houses demolished." Click here to see pictures from our team in Joplin.

Hope Force's Glenda Bashor is helping coordinate volunteers for the Salvation Army, who are arriving with great regularity.  Andrew is pitching in at the makeshift warehouse that is receiving a lot of donated items like food and clothing from around the country. Marianne is assisting the Salvation Army with logistics while Rene is based directly in the center of the tornado zone, managing a Salvation Army field operating location. "It is a 40 x 60 foot tent, which is serving as headquarters for relief operations in this sector of the city. Several canteen trucks are providing food and drinks for the survivors and disaster responders. It is also serving as a distribution point fasddor donated goods and a staging location for various service providers who are volunteering.

"Today there was a company providing free cell phones to survivors who had lost theirs'," Rene continues "I think they gave out 300 phones today! Another guy came and was fixing flat tires for free. There was a man servicing chain saws. People are coming from all over the country to volunteer in any way they can. Between the city hospital and our location, it is totally destroyed. You can see nothing but debris. It has been four days since the tornado, so the streets are starting to clear but the houses are completely destroyed with debris clogging the yards and home sites. To give you an idea of how severe it was, there is a Salvation Army thrift store, which is completely destroyed, and a pickup truck sits right in the middle of it now. The vehicle's owner showed up today and we learned it had been picked up and dropped there by the tornado from four blocks away."

p"Another initiative is the "Hope Station", a tent next to ours, where there is a "kidz zone" during the afternoon and a concert each day at 5.41 PM, the time the tornado struck. Apart from music in the tent, there is a T-shirt campaign where people get a free T-shirt and write something on the back such as a prayer or a thought about the tornado and Joplin. There is also a Facebook page about this with many of the writings. This is in partnership with the Salvation Army."

*Hope Force International  is a national partner of the Salvation Army, with a signed Memorandum of Understanding that provides a protocol for partnership in times of significant disaster events.  

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