Helping Residents Cope after Flooding in the Nation’s Capital

Two emotional and spiritual care workers visit flood-ravaged home
by waynem
Categories: Articles, Blog, Feature, Mobile, Newswire
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Often, the most visible Salvation Army emergency disaster services (EDS) are the meals and drinks served to survivors and first responders. What some people may not know is that The Salvation Army is often called on to provide spiritual comfort and emotional support.
“As trained emotional and spiritual care (ESC) workers, we attend to the survivors who are affected by the disaster as well as the frontline workers and those who are supporting or working in the response,” says Major Roxzena Hayden, ESC officer.

“Many said their spirits, and energy received a boost when they saw The Salvation Army.”

In April 2019, substantial rainfall and a large snowmelt caused the Ottawa River to reach record-breaking levels. As a result of flooding, hundreds of homes were damaged, leaving owners isolated and afraid. One week before Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency for the city of Ottawa, local Salvation Army EDS personnel mobilized to provide first responders, volunteers and those affected by the flooding with practical, emotional and spiritual care.  For over a month Salvation Army EDS personnel from across Canada worked hard to help the community recover.
“Early in the response The Salvation Army was requested to accompany the police and firefighters―provide them with emotional and spiritual support―as they checked on residents,” says Hayden. “This also gave us a chance to reach out to people who were trapped in their homes.”
Hayden recalls the team finding one woman waiting outside her home in the damp and cold for hydro workers to turn on her power. She wanted to ensure they would see her. One Salvation Army worker stayed with the shivering resident, while another left to bring back hot meals, snacks and drinks. In another instance, flooding had trapped an elderly gentleman and his wife in their home. They asked for a wheelchair to get the frail wife to safety. The Salvation Army was able to assist them with that request and provided water and meals for them as well.

“Regardless of church affiliation or religion, because all people affected by disaster need to be cared for.”

“Many said their spirits, and energy received a boost when they saw The Salvation Army,” says Hayden. “Every person has a spiritual nature within them and that is what emotional and spiritual care workers tap into, regardless of church affiliation or religion, because all people affected by disaster need to be cared for.”
In Canada, The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services program began in December 1917 in response to the Halifax explosion. Today, The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services has grown into an international network involving thousands of trained personnel worldwide, including many volunteers.