Bainbridge Salvation Army aids in Hurricane Idalia recovery efforts

Published 2:58 pm Friday, September 1, 2023

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While Bainbridge was left predominantly unscathed by Hurricane Idalia, nearby communities were ravaged by the storm. Despite the storm weakening from its landfall status of a Category 3 storm as it reached Georgia, it still brought destructive winds, with Valdosta being one of the hardest-hit cities in the state.

In response to the disaster, the Salvation Army’s Incident Command Team was deployed on Thursday. As the various members of the team had to come from different areas of the state, and had to perform preliminary surveys of the disaster, in the meantime, Bainbridge Salvation Army Director Merreann McDonald and the Army’s Disaster Chairman Mike Clinton went about feeding the residents of Valdosta. The meals were bag lunches consisting of hot dogs, granola bars, chips and drinks; while members of the Valdosta Salvation Army went out to distribute food to the community, McDonald and others stayed behind at a local church to distribute food to any that came by. The Salvation Army even received a donation of hundreds of hamburger patties and buns, providing a change of pace from offering nothing but hot dogs.

“We were on the east side of town, right where you come in off 84,” she said, “and that area was getting power first it seemed… There were a lot of residents in that area that did not have power.” According to McDonald, some residents had not had food in over 24 hours. Thousands are still without power, and some may not have power until midnight Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

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The Salvation Army Incident Command Team will remain for several more days supplying food, with McDonald planning to return on Sunday to continue helping.

“It was a blessing to me to get to go, because I did not realize that I needed healing from Hurricane Michael,” McDonald said. “As a single mom with five kids under roof, it was scary, and to look at other moms in the face yesterday, that I could see that same fear of not knowing what tomorrow brings, and ‘How am I gonna do this?’, it was comforting to me to be able to give them reassurance, that ‘You will get through this.’”

“Of course I feel like I need to do more, but in those situations, many of us want to do something,” McDonald said. Anyone interested in volunteering can reach out to the Salvation Army at 229-243-7250.