Chicagoans interested in helping hurricane victims can visit the Chicago Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service headquarters in Elk Grove Village for free Emergency Disaster Training on Sept. 9, Sept. 12 and Sept 16.

In effort to aid those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and Floridians who are about to be hit by Hurricane Irma, The Salvation Army will teach volunteers how to safely provide food, water and supplies before they are on the ground in a disaster area. The organization is planning for a long-term relief operation that will require extensive volunteer support from the Chicago area.

According to Salvation Army Major David Dalberg, director of Emergency Disaster Services for the Metropolitan Division of Greater Chicago, the Salvation Army’s four national territories are stretched thin. He said the Eastern territory is responsible for aiding Puerto Rico with relief from Hurricane Irma. The Western territory is fighting wildfires up the coast. The South “obviously has their hands full,” he added.

“In every space around us there is extreme activity that requires our help,” Dalberg said. “We are being drawn upon to respond to where there is the greatest need.” He said the only way to supply that need is to deploy more volunteers.

With more than 70 mobile feeding units, called canteens, on the ground in Houston, The Salvation Army has handed out more than 280,000 meals. Each canteen is manned by volunteers and assigned to serve specific communities, where disaster survivors will often be lined up awaiting their next meal. Each distributes up to 1,500 hot meals each day.

Supplies and staff from Salvation Army branches in the Chicago area will be sent to Houston and Florida this week, with some staff on-site in Houston directed to relocate to Florida to prepare for Hurricane Irma’s landfall. Volunteer deployments last 14 days, with 12 days on the ground.

“It’s very demanding and incredibly rewarding work,” Dalberg said. To prepare volunteers, training sessions will cover “everything that a disaster volunteer could possibly do” to ensure that “going into the field, they know what to expect.”

Canteen training will take place this Saturday and next Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will include how to prepare and serve food safely and how to operate the vehicle, manage equipment and care for generators.

Safe food handling will be taught on Sept. 12 from noon to 3 p.m. All courses will take place at the Salvation Army Headquarters at 1000 W. Pratt Blvd. in Elk Grove Village.

For more information on how to volunteer, or to register for a training session, go to http://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/training or call 847-709-6700.

The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service Headquarters is at 1000 W. Pratt Blvd. in Elk Grove Village.