Book Cover

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Salvation Army's Role Remembered

This photo page from The War Cry
was recently discovered by Jeff Jellets
(Click to Enlarge)
Dear Mr. Goodwin,

First, let me just congratulate you on a superbly researched and grippingly told history of the Winecoff Hotel fire. As an emergency manager and disaster responder, historical disaster events have always fascinated me and your book was one of the very best in terms of documenting what happened, the aftermath, and the investigation as to whether the fire was intentional.

Reading those chapters sent a bit of a chill up my spine -- as I live in Fayette County -- and am familiar with many of the place names. I also work for The Salvation Army and was intrigued by your mention of them in the book.

Thank you very much for shedding light on an event that should never be forgotten.

Jeff Jellets

Dear Jeff,

Thanks for your kind words. The Salvation Army played a crucial role in the emergency response to the Winecoff Hotel fire.

Hotel secretary, Nell McDuffie, having barely survived the fire herself, quickly became overwhelmed by the hundreds of inquiries from frantic family members concerned about their loved ones. She asked that all phone calls be routed to the Salvation Army headquarters. There, comparing lists of the guests, the injured and the dead, the Salvationists provided information, often grim, to hundreds of callers.

As concerned people flooded into Atlanta, other Salvationists worked in pairs to assist grieving relatives in locating their loved ones. Salvation Army officers were stationed at Grady Hospital. As the hours wore on, the Salvation Army helped identify many of the most badly burned victims using tiny clues like jewelry and bits of clothing. Sue Mitchum was among them.

As the days passed the Salvationists helped with funeral arrangements and even conducted several themselves for those with no other options.

The vital work of the Red Cross on the fire scene and the Salvation Army rounded out an impressive and compassionate response to Atlanta's biggest disaster since the Civil War.

All best,