Hurricane Matthew 2016

Salvation Army Austin Emergency Disaster Team Deploys to Florida

Polaris and The Salvation Army Partner at DARPA

Polaris and The Salvation Army Partner at DARPA

Polaris and The Salvation Army Partner at DARPA

Polaris and The Salvation Army are showing the value of partnership while DARPA shows the advances in using Technology to help in times of disaster. Many of the tools that are manufactured by Polaris are perfect for taking The Salvation Army closer to where the need is the greatest. At the DARPA Robotics Challenge, Teams from around the world demonstrate diverse approaches and expertise while collaborating toward a common goal: improving robotics for disaster response.

Recently in response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Sandy and the Oklahoma tornadoes, Polaris donated a number of off road support vehicles to assist The Salvation Army in disaster response. Demonstrating this partnership while DARPA continues to find ways to support disaster response is a natural fit.

The units on display walk, crawl and roll. They take inspiration from humans and animals, and come in sizes tall and small, skinny and wide. They represent five countries around the world. They are the robots of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials, and they and their human operators have all been practicing very, very hard. (

The teams scheduled to compete in the DRC Trials—taking place December 20-21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida—are a mix of government, academic and commercial organizations from around the globe. They vary from each other in many ways, such as team size and experience, focus on hardware and/or software, and the design and capabilities of their entries. What all teams share, however, is commitment to a common goal: to speed development of robots that could aid in response efforts after future natural and man-made disasters.

Kevin Smith, Director and Lance Rocks, Assistant Director of The Salvation Army, Emergency Disaster Services, Florida Division as representatives.

“Its perfect to be in Homestead, Florida watching how robotics are being used to make disaster response more efficient and less dangerous for responders when conditions may be too dangerous.” said Lance Rocks. “Homestead really was the starting point for modern day emergency management and seeing that robotics are now being introduced into the response field here gets you excited. Especially if the exponential growth is duplicated.”

The Salvation Army is very grateful to Polaris for its support. The Salvation Army is recognized because we serve at the time and place of the greatest need. Polaris's products takes us even further, and that is critical for our relief. Representatives from Polaris and The Salvation Army will be at the DARPA Challenge Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Massive Overnight Fire at Camp Keystone as Dining Hall Erupts in Flames

Massive overnight fire at Camp Keystone

The massive overnight fire at Camp Keystone (Florida Division) that destroyed the camp’s largest building—its dining hall—on Saturday did not prevent various summer camp programs from continuing.

The Florida Fire Marshal’s office, which is still trying to determine the cause of the blaze, says the three-alarm fire started in the laundry area of the building and caused an estimated $3 million in damage.

More than 300 campers and staff were sleeping when a Bradford County deputy discovered the fire about 2 a.m. Two-dozen fire crews from Bradford and Clay counties and the city of Starke assisted in fighting the massive overnight fire at Camp Keystone that destroyed the building.

Those campers in a cabin closest to the dining hall were evacuated. No one was injured in the fire. The dining hall, originally built in the mid 1970’s, has undergone renovations in the last few years, but is now a charred shell.

The annual Music Conservatory final concert went ahead as planned with a capacity audience from parents and friends around the division. One counsellor was reported to say to the media “They were singing & dancing in the tabernacle just like nothing ever happened.” On Saturday morning breakfast consisted of Pop Tarts and juice. The counsellor also stated “so the day is going on fine.” The Jacksonville Area Command canteen arrived and served through the weekend.

Later on Sunday, a 53 ft mobile feeding kitchen rolled into Camp from the Divisional Emergency Disaster Services base in Tampa. The kitchen, having seen service at hurricanes, floods and tornadoes, will now provide meals for campers and staff for the remainder of the camping season.

Please pray for Captains Platt the newly appointed Divisional Youth Secretaries; Tony & Pam Bellis, camp caretakers, staff and campers at Keystone.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a broad array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to