Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army dispatches member to help with Hurricane Ian relief efforts in Florida

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — The Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army dispatched a member to assist with Hurricane Ian relief efforts in Florida.

“It’s becoming one of our biggest actions, widespread as it has been,” said Major Tawny Cowen-Zanders, describing the Salvation Army’s response.

The Salvation Army had teams on the ground even before Ian struck.

On Wednesday morning, Cowen-Zanders, department secretary of the Greater Philadelphia Salvation Army, traveled to Florida to help with hurricane relief efforts.

“We’re just here to say, ‘We’re here. What do you need?’ And some people might just need a listening ear. Some people might need a blanket,” said Cowen-Zanders.

Cowen-Zanders has been with the Salvation Army for 18 years and has responded to disasters like Irma in 2017.

This time she will be based in Port Charlotte and serve on the Incident Management team as Public Information Officer.

“We’re meeting people whose entire infrastructure has been dismantled in some places and they’re having it rebuilt at the moment,” said Cowen-Zanders.

So far, The Salvation Army has provided more than 65,000 meals, lunch boxes and snacks in addition to personal hygiene kits, cleaning kits and baby supplies as people try to get their lives back on track.

“They’re trying to mop up. They try to prevent mold from growing. They try to keep their food, eat enough, because with the power outage it’s all gone,” said Cowen-Zanders.

Then there is the emotional support.

“It’s also the emotional reality of one day you go to bed and everything is fine and the next day your home has been destroyed and your life as you know it,” she said.

There are others locally from across Pennsylvania, although Cowen-Zanders is currently the only member from the Greater Philadelphia Chapter. She will be there for two weeks.

More members will be sent as the response progresses.

“We’ll just be there until the last one needs us,” said Cowen-Zanders.

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