Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Emergency vehicle serving in the Lake Placid area after tornado

Disaster relief: When a tornado strikes, we answer the call

Added on Monday, May 15, 2017

When tornadoes strike, The Salvation Army moves to action.

Last year, after a tornado with wind speeds of up to 135 mph hit the Placid Lake area of northern Minnesota, The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services team from Brainerd was immediately on the scene to assist with meals, water and snacks (read related story).

As we enter peak tornado season this year, our disaster services team is again ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

The Salvation Army first began serving disaster survivors during the historic San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Ever since, we have remained committed to providing critical services to ensure survivors have the support needed to rebuild their lives.

A Historically Large Disaster

One of the largest natural disasters our team has ever responded to occurred after a series of tornadoes a half century ago, before modern radar technology.

2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of the deadly tornado that killed 16 people in southern Minnesota. According to newspaper reports at the time, on April 30, 1967, several tornadoes struck Waseca, Steele, Freeborn, Rice and Mower counties. (Read the Waseca County news recount.)Albert Lea Salvation Army 1967 Tornado recovery

In the article, Robert Deef, Waseca County’s civil defense director at the time of the tornados, recalls a fast response from the National Guard and The Salvation Army.

The devastation was so great the day has been remembered as “Black Sunday.”

This was a time well before today’s technology. Local TV meteorologists were still using chalk and felt boards to show their weather predictions.

After a tornado took one community by surprise, due to a lack of communication and technology, it was not uncommon for the tornado to roll through the next town without warning.

Storm radar technology was so underdeveloped, a tornado packing winds up to hundreds of miles an hour would simply show up as a long white blob on a black screen, as was the case in 1967. To make matters worse, no one was expecting tornadoes in April.

Planning for the Unexpected

Disasters happen at the most unsuspecting times. The Salvation Army knows this and is prepared to answer the call on a moment’s notice.

Our team of trained staff and volunteers are among the first responders, on-call and ready to spring into action.

It has been said, “The Salvation Army is the first on the scene and the last to leave,” and for good reason.

For decades The Salvation Army has provided assistance during the most challenging times of our lives. When communities are hit with tragedy, The Salvation Army and all of our volunteers help to make them whole again.

Please join The Salvation Army by becoming a disaster services volunteer or make a donation to support our disaster relief efforts.