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Members help with flood cleanup

WENDEN, Ariz. — Almost three weeks after a devastating flood roared through the small town of Wenden, Ariz., Oct. 22, more than 350 Church members from seven stakes participated in clean-up efforts.

After weeks of rain stopped, Latter-day Saint volunteers from the Peoria Arizona, Peoria Arizona North, Buckeye Arizona, Glendale Arizona, Glendale Arizona North, Phoenix West and Phoenix West Maricopa stakes converged on the small town with huge dump trucks, frontend loaders, small bobcats and tractors. The bishops storehouse sent rubber boots and gloves, which others put to use.

Members cleared yards and streets of trash, debris and tons of mud. Clean dirt and gravel were brought in from a local gravel pit to fill in where the flood had dug out driveways, yards and roadways.

On Sunday, Oct. 22, the devastating flood left dozens of families in Wenden without homes and many more trying to struggle with the tons of mud and debris that were left behind. There is a small branch of the Church in Wenden led by Branch President Larry Leach. While most members of the branch were not in the path of the flood they were greatly concerned about the welfare of their friends and neighbors.

The Red Cross and the State of Arizona moved in with food, clothing and temporary shelter and the Church leaders in the Peoria Arizona North Stake and others in the western part of the Phoenix area began to make plans for a large relief effort. The next Saturday, Oct. 28, more than 300 men started out from the metropolitan area, bringing tons of heavy equipment with the goal of clearing out mud and silt from the devastated houses in the Wenden area. Most had to travel more than 130 miles to their destination and, within just a few miles of the goal, learned that the project would have to be called off for the day. Because of additional flooding Wenden was under water again. There was no access to the homes or even to the Church building, which had been used by the Red Cross as a distribution point for relief supplies.

In the meantime, Church members in Wenden pitched in and did whatever could be done. When the roads re-opened the bishops storehouse in Mesa sent in trucks of supplies; the parking lot of the small branch was again the distribution center. As the rains lessened 47 homes or areas were targeted for clean up.

After LDS volunteers moved in to help, Brenda Parkerson, whose home was closest to the flooded wash, was asked, "How are you feeling today?" She instantly replied, "Grateful!"

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