Disaster volunteers head to Florida - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Disaster volunteers head to Florida

August 14, 2004

Albany- Saturday morning the Salvation Army disaster services volunteers were in bed sleeping, but by Sunday they will be serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to hurricane victims in Florida.

"This is a mobile kitchen, and we'll set the kitchen up and serve meals out of that," says Commanding Officer, Major James Amburgey.

With $4,000 in food and drinks, the unit will cook and distribute up to 2,500 meals a day.

Crew members will head to Tampa first and then go on to some of the hardest hit areas. They say they're ready, but the images on TV do little to prepare them for what they'll see first-hand.

"When you're there it just overwhelms you, especially at first. When you look at a home destroyed that someone's life," Amburgey says.

"Just to look at the devastation and know that there's anything that we can do to help that's going to be very, very rewarding for me," adds volunteer Pam Barkley.

It will be a special reward for Barkley. She was called to serve on her birthday.

"I just said you know it will be a birthday I will remember, and I can celebrate a birthday any day and this is much more important," she says.

All of the crew members are expecting to gain something by giving to others.

"There's a lot of joy in helping people. They come in sometimes in tears, brokenhearted, lost everything and a lot of them don't know where they're going to get their next meal," Amburgey says.

But, as long as the Salvation Army and their mobile kitchen are there, the hurricane victims won't have to worry.

The Albany Salvation Army crew is just one of ten in the state that was called to head to Florida. They are planning to stay in Florida for ten days.

South Georgia Red Cross disaster relief volunteers are also headed to Florida. The Red Cross in Albany received the call Saturday afternoon.

Husband and wife team Johnny and Crump Libby have been on 24 disasters. Saturday they packed up and are taking one of the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles to Tampa.

Posted at 5:10 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com