Houston Salvation Army Commander Transferred

The Houston area commander of the Salvation Army has been transferred, but it's no ordinary move. Major John Roy Jones is moving to Mississippi to take over the Salvation Army's work of helping people recover from Hurricane Katrina. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Major Jones leaves Friday to take command of the Salvation Army's Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama district, and manage the Army's disaster recovery programs in all three states. Jones has experience in disaster recovery and crisis management, but this will be his toughest assignment yet.

"It is a little unnerving to think that what they're trying to do, the Salvation Army's involvement along the Gulf Coast and helping to rebuild, especially in Biloxi, Gulfport, New Orleans, along that area, and to think that they've asked me to go in and to help move that along, and to be responsible for that continued rebuilding. It's uh....it's a bit overwhelming."

Major Jones managed recovery efforts after the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9-11 crash at the Pentagon, and most recently the Salvation Army's Houston area response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He says helping Katrina evacuees survive here prepared him to help them rebuild their lives back home.

"Well we operated here just like it was a disaster, because we had people with the same needs here as if they had been there. The difference is that while we're still continuing to do disaster work here, down there they're still working on trying to rebuild, and move people back in, and give an even greater long term assistance."

Major Jones says his goal is focus on helping people recover to the point where they can take care of themselves again.

"Helping them find permanent housing, and then creating some kind of sustainability with them through job training, child care, transportation, a lot of the peripheral things that people have to have in order to sustain themselves."

Major Jones says this is a promotion for him, but only because his responsibilities are increasing. There's no promotion in rank or pay. He's still a Major. His wife, Major Arduth Jones, is moving to Mississippi with him. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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