Add mud slides to recent California woes; gospel helps LDS face disasters

Riots. Fires. Earthquakes. Now mud slides.

Rivers of mud and water began rolling through the Los Angeles, Calif., area Feb. 7, inundating homes and blocking roads and highways. Site of the some of the worst mud slides was Malibu, about 25 miles west of Los Angeles.As of Feb. 8, five families of the Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake, which includes Malibu, were affected as a river of mud blocked roads, keeping the members from either leaving their homes or reaching their homes, said stake Pres. Robert E. Hedrick.

He said that all five families are members of the Pacific Palisades Ward, which, he added, sustained the most severe damage during the mud slides and recent wildfires. The Pacific Palisades Ward runs northwest from Santa Monica to the Ventura County line, about 30 miles in length.

Keith Atkinson, director of California Public Affairs, said that two member families living in Altadena, which also had some mud slides and is about 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles, were evacuated. Members of the Pasadena California Stake, they have since returned to their homes, Brother Atkinson reported.

No LDS injuries or deaths have been reported.

In describing the devastating mud slides, Brother Atkinson told the Church News: "There was two feet of mud and water on the Pacific Coast Highway [which runs through MalibuT. Mud just washed through the homes at the bottom of the cliffs and into the ocean."

According to United Press International, the slides were caused by severe winter rain storms that lashed hillsides devoid of vegetation because of last fall's wildfires.

Pres. Hedrick praised the members of his stake for their positive response to the recent disasters. "The members are so resilient; they are terrific," he said.

The mud slides come just three weeks after a major earthquake measuring 6.7 rocked the area Jan. 17, leaving more than 60 dead and thousands injured. Three LDS-related deaths were reported by local Church leaders, 20 LDS homes were lost, and of 27 LDS buildings receiving minor or major damage, at least six were uninhabitable. The Los Angeles Temple received minor damages. (Please see Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 Church News.)

Members from throughout Southern California have been reaching out to quake victims by joining or organizing various relief efforts. "What was amazing about the quake," said Pres. Hedrick, "was how quickly the community responded. There are a lot of good people here."

In speaking of the quick response of members after the earthquake, he said: "The Relief Society has done a fantastic job in monitoring the single senior sisters in our stake. Relief Society leaders responded to me almost instantly. We received a call from a ham radio operator at 6:30 a.m. after the quake [which occurred at about 4:30 a.m. PSTT. Then we received word from the ward Relief Society presidencies about how most of the senior sisters were doing. We had a good indication of where the major problems were within about three hours."

Concerning the positive attitude of the Saints in Southern California despite the recent disasters, Pres. Hedrick added: "What's unique about the Latter-day Saint community is they have the gospel as a foundation, and when they respond to the promptings of the Spirit, most are able to overcome these problems.

"Relief Societies and priesthood quorums have done a lot to prepare people for these kinds of disasters," he said. "And members have responded well."

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