Salvation Army chaplains ready to help victims of Harvey; “to just let them talk”

Tom Thuecks

MILWAUKEE -- Recovering from Harvey will take months, even years -- and that includes the trauma many flood victims have experienced. But that's where the Salvation Army has stepped in.

Tom Thuecks is with the Salvation Army in Milwaukee and said Wednesday, August 30th the situation in the affected areas is in constant flux.

"I've been involved several different disasters. 9/11. Sri Lanka. The hurricanes that went through Florida," Thuecks said.

Thuecks has nearly 20 years of disaster response experience and said the Salvation Army in Milwaukee has readied three emotional and spiritual chaplains to travel to Texas and interact with storm victims.

Salvation Army

"Our chaplains are trained to maybe pull some of that information out of them -- to just let them talk. That's so healthy and helpful for the individuals," Thuecks said.

Thuecks said residents are going through the initial shock of being forced from their homes, but many will have to navigate even more stress when they return.

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 30: Residents begin to return to their homes in north Houston as flood waters began to recede following Hurricane Harvey August 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The city of Houston is still experiencing severe flooding in some areas due to the accumulation of historic levels of rainfall, though the storm has moved to the north and east. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

"That's the time when the individuals are really going to need that emotional and spiritual support -- when they see what they have all lost, if there is anything left," Thuecks said.

The call may come for the Salvation Army chaplains next week. By that time, the first wave of responders will need to be relieved and aid workers in states like Wisconsin can step in to help.

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 29: People walk past an abandoned car after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

"Typically the chaplains or anybody serving down there will be in for 10 days to two weeks -- and that's about as long as a time you want to have somebody to stay fresh and effective," Thuecks said.