Captain Israel Roseno, the Commanding Officer of The Salvation Army in Charlotte County and Desoto County, like many others, found himself at the center of the storm—both literally and figuratively—after Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on this community. As an experienced leader in disaster response, he was prepared and eager for the challenges ahead.
When news of the approaching hurricane reached Captain Israel, his primary concern was ensuring the safety of the community and his own family. Coordinating with the Florida Salvation Army, he worked tirelessly to deploy resource units across Charlotte and Desoto Counties. Meanwhile, he made the difficult decision to relocate his family to a safer location in the state.
As Hurricane Ian made landfall, Captain Israel had initially planned to ride it out in the comfort of his own home. However, as circumstances changed, he found himself among hundreds of people seeking shelter at Kingsway Elementary. Being no stranger to disaster situations, “I did not expect luxury” as he put it, Captain Israel embraced the situation, fully aware that this was the first time he was on the receiving end of such assistance.
In the aftermath of the hurricane, Captain Israel was the first person to leave the shelter and witness the devastation. The sight of widespread destruction filled him with sadness and determination. While he had previously felt helpless watching disasters unfold in other areas, he now felt empowered by the opportunity to make a difference in his own community.
With the support and reinforcements provided by The Salvation Army, Captain Israel navigated the immediate challenges of the recovery phase. After securing a building to operate out of, The Salvation Army swiftly mobilized its resources, providing essential aid to those in need—food, water, electricity, and more—ensuring that the community's basic needs were met.
Throughout the entire response process, Captain Israel was aware that his organization's role extended beyond immediate hurricane relief. The Salvation Army had a broader focus, providing a wide range of services. However, due to the overwhelming demand resulting from Hurricane Ian, their efforts were primarily focused on the immediate needs during the initial months.
The days that followed the hurricane were marked by long hours, sleepless nights, and hours of physical and emotional labor for Captain Israel and his dedicated staff and volunteers. The personal sacrifices made by Captain Israel were mirrored by his team, who worked tirelessly to support the community. They put their own well-being aside to ensure that the services were effective and efficient.
Through their dedication, The Salvation Army played a vital role in the community's healing process. They provided essential assistance, but the challenges they faced were not solely physical. Captain Israel, with his experience working in disaster-affected areas, understood the emotional and spiritual toll that disasters could take on individuals. However, the sheer volume of work demanded immediate attention, leaving little room for reflection on his own mental well-being. As Captain Israel said in our interview, “After about three weeks I had to take a little bit of a break so turned everything off and went into the chapel. I layed on the sound booth for about an hour. Because I had to...”
As the recovery efforts progressed, Captain Israel began contemplating the lessons learned from the experience. He realized the importance of organizing untrained volunteers effectively and the need to acquire service vehicles for future disaster response. Recognizing the value of having more resources for disaster recovery in Charlotte County, he aimed to rely less on state-level support.
Captain Israel Roseno and The Salvation Army's work after Hurricane Ian became a testament to their unwavering dedication to serving others. Their ability to rise to the occasion, provide essential support, and navigate the challenges exemplified the organization's mission of holistic care. They will continue to help the community rebuild, offering hope, assistance, and a shoulder to lean on in the face of adversity.
About the LTRG
The Charlotte County Long-Term Recovery Group works to coordinate recovery services and build resiliency for individuals, families, and entities adversely impacted by Hurricane Ian in Charlotte County. Its purpose is to engage the community and create a vision while re-imagining the systems and landscape of our community. A plan will be created and published in the Summer of 2023. For more information, please contact us at LTRteam@gulfcoastpartnership.org
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 30 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.