BETA

Mormons respond to disasters around the world

The Church announced plans this month to launch an aggressive program to put as many as 600 urgently needed temporary housing kits into the hands of Haitian members before the rainy season starts in April.

It is a continuing effort by the Church to restore normalcy and promote self-reliance in the country.

Haitians walk past the destruction in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010.
Haitians walk past the destruction in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

More than a month after an earthquake struck the Caribbean island Jan. 12, thousands of people continued to seek shelter at the nine Latter-day Saint meetinghouses around Port-au-Prince. In addition, the Church provided nearly 1,500 tents to those left homeless after the quake.

The temporary housing is "intended to last until they can get more permanent housing," said Lynn Samsel, director of Church Emergency Response. "That will allow people to get out of the weather."

In addition, the Church is now focusing on employment for quake victims.

"All our members had employment prior to the earthquake," said Brother Samsel. "It is a matter of us identifying what they are capable of doing and helping them find those opportunities."

In addition to efforts in Haiti, the Church has responded to several other major disasters around the world.

"It has been a busy, busy time," Brother Samsel said.

TUBUAI, FRENCH POLYNESIA

With winds up to 120 miles per hour, Cyclone Oli struck the island of Tubuai on Feb. 4. More than 4,000 people were evacuated before the storm that killed one person and injured 11. No members or missionaries were hurt in the storm.

About 200 homes were severely damaged or destroyed. Fifty member homes were damaged and five LDS homes were destroyed, according to a Church welfare report.

In response to the disaster, the Church sent food, hygiene kits and other relief supplies that were distributed in partnership with the local government.

AITUTAKI, COOK ISLANDS

Cyclone Pat struck Aitutaki on Feb. 11, damaging an estimated 90 percent of the homes on the Pacific island and knocking out electricity for up to six weeks.

Priesthood leaders are assessing the needs in response to the storm that significantly damaged 13 member homes, according to the welfare report.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO

About half of Mexico was affected this February by severe rainfall, triggering flooding and mud slides. At least 15 people died in the disaster, which hit hardest the areas in and around Mexico City.

All missionaries and members are safe following the storms that flooded the property and homes of 10 member families, according to a Church welfare report.

In response to the disaster, the Church sent food, water and blankets. Other relief supplies were purchased locally and distributed to affected families in the community in coordination with Mexico City officials.

A semi-trailer truck sits parked outside a travel center on Thursday, Jan. 21, in Bellemont, Ariz. Officials discouraged travel in northern Arizona due to heavy snow.
A semi-trailer truck sits parked outside a travel center on Thursday, Jan. 21, in Bellemont, Ariz. Officials discouraged travel in northern Arizona due to heavy snow. Photo: AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca

TUBA CITY, ARIZONA

A succession of storms Jan. 18 to Jan. 23 dumped several feet of snow throughout northern Arizona, stranding thousands on the Navajo and Hopi reservations and covering roads with five- to eight-foot snow drifts.

Military helicopters hauled food, water, coal and wood to rural residents cut off by the storms. Rescue efforts covered a 20,000-square-mile area.

The Church sent two truckloads of food, water, blankets, hygiene kits and other relief supplies to the Hopi and Navajo Reservations. Military and priesthood leaders delivered the supplies to affected families, according to the report.

The overflowing Urubamba river passes next to the Machu Picchu Pueblo archeological site in Cuzco, Peru Thursday, Jan. 28. Heavy rains and mud slides in Peru have blocked the train route to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, leaving nearly 2,000 tourists stranded.
The overflowing Urubamba river passes next to the Machu Picchu Pueblo archeological site in Cuzco, Peru Thursday, Jan. 28. Heavy rains and mud slides in Peru have blocked the train route to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, leaving nearly 2,000 tourists stranded. Photo: AP / Martin Mejia

CUSCO, PERU

Heavy rains triggered flooding in Bolivia and Peru at the end of January, impacting 24,000 families in Bolivia and 12,000 families in Peru, according to the report.

Eighty member homes were damaged and two were destroyed by the flooding. The floor of one meetinghouse was damaged.

Local priesthood leaders purchased immediate relief supplies for 72 families in La Paz, Bolivia, who lost their homes.

Mongolia snow storms created havoc among its population.
Mongolia snow storms created havoc among its population. Photo: AP File Photo

MONGOLIA

Following a severe summer drought, heavy winter snow storms affected more than 400,000 people in Mongolia this January and February. More than 1.7 million livestock deaths have been reported, with another 3 to 4 million expected to die this spring. The crisis is so bad that some families have resorted to sharing their homes with surviving animals.

In response to the crisis, the Mongolian government made an appeal for food, medicine and animal feed. The Church, in partnership with the State Emergency Commission, is distributing food, clothing, medicine, candles, fuel and hygiene items to herder families. Funding has also been provided by the Church to repair broken heating systems in school dormitories, according to the Church welfare report.

NIUE, SAMOA

Three cyclones in two weeks this February threatened the tsunami-damaged area of Niue, Samoa. Other areas of Samoa and Tonga were also impacted by the storms. Priesthood leaders, who helped members take normal precautionary measures to prepare for the storms, are now responding to their needs, according to the welfare report.

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