On March 12, 2014, a devastating gas-leak explosion leveled two
buildings in East Harlem, taking lives and leaving many suddenly
homeless. At the request of the New York City Office of
Emergency Management (OEM), and in partnership with the
American Red Cross, other city agencies, and other non-profits
organizations (including those under the New York City
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, or VOAD), The
Salvation Army Greater New York Division’s Manhattan
Citadel Community Center in East Harlem was transformed
into a “resident service center” and emergency shelter for roughly
three days.
Below is a summary of emergency services that were provided in
conjunction with our partner agencies during this crisis:
• 250 people were affected by this disaster (85-90 apartment
• The Salvation Army’s Manhattan Citadel Community
Center became the official shelter for people affected by the
• The Red Cross managed operations at the Manhattan
Citadel shelter.
• On the first night, 75 people were sheltered at the center,
and on the second night 45 people were sheltered (these
figures do not include volunteers, and the Red Cross,
Salvation Army and city workers who also stayed
• In-kind gifts were distributed to people affected by the
explosion, including food, clothing, school supplies, toiletries
and toys.
• 1,000 hot meals were served, which included dinner on
Wednesday, March 12th; and breakfast, lunch and dinner on
both Thursday, March 13th and Friday, March 14th. The Red
Cross provided all meals during the three days, with Red
Cross staff and volunteers serving.
• Child-care services were also provided, with members of
The Salvation Army, Red Cross, and Save the Children
setting up games and activities for youngsters.
• Salvation Army and Red Cross vehicles were used to take
children to and from school.
• Therapy dogs, provided through the American Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) were on
hand to offer comfort to both children and adults.
• A “residence service center,” coordinated by both the Red
Cross and New York City OEM, was established on the
second floor of the Manhattan Citadel center, with more than
12 agencies providing intake and counsel, including Con
Edison, the ASPCA, New York City OEM, Department of
Buildings, Department of Transportation, Department
of Mental Health & Hygiene, Department of Homeless
Services, New York City Human Resources
Association, and Department of Housing Preservation.
• The New York City Department of Sanitation made extra
visits to the center to remove trash.
• New York City officials, including the Mayor and First Lady
of New York, visited the center. Many other community
leaders also visited.
• The shelter at the center --- set up in the Manhattan Citadel
gymnasium --- officially opened at 6 p.m. on Wednesday,
March 12th, and officially closed at 9 a.m. on Saturday,
March 15th.
• The New York Police Department maintained a presence
at the center until Saturday, March 15th, at 9 a.m., when the
shelter officially closed.
• On-site emotional and spiritual care was provided by The
Salvation Army, the New York State Chaplaincy, New
York Disaster Interfaith Services, Disaster Chaplaincy
Services, and other organizations.
• At 10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 14th, persons affected by the
explosion were escorted to city buses which would take
them to city-supported temporary housing located in East
Harlem, the Bronx, and mid-town Manhattan.