Salvation Army preparing Matthew disaster response

- Tampa Bay's Salvation Army units are getting ready to serve the state as Hurricane Matthew bears down on Florida.  The category 4 storm is the most powerful hurricane to threaten the U.S. Atlantic coast in more than a decade.

Crews at the Salvation Army warehouse in Tampa were busy Thursday, gathering and loading disaster relief supplies to take to the east coast and to stock their mobile feeding units as they travel to help those in need once the storm passes.

Kevin Smith, the Director of Emergency Disaster Services for Salvation Army - Florida Division, says those mobile feeding units provide more than just supplies to storm victims.

"Most of the time, when people lose their power.. a warm, hot meal and a cold glass or bottle of water [can] really help to bring some comfort in a time of chaos," said Smith.

Widespread power outages are expected - possibly stretching into days or weeks - for millions of Floridians.

The Salvation Army says they've been preparing for the storm all week, and they're ready to serve 100,000 meals.  The mobile feeding units, which can serve 1,500 meals a day, will be ready to deploy to the east coast as early as Friday or as soon as conditions are clear.

The Salvation Army says financial gifts are the best and fastest way to get relief to those who need it once the storm passes. People who want to help those directly affected by the storm can visit http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/hurricane_matthew, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or text STORM to 51555.  To become a volunteer, please visit www.salvationarmytampabay.org to contact your local Salvation Army unit for details.

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