Church responds to world disasters

Various forms of assistance provided to alleviate suffering and devastation

The Church has responded to recent disasters in Missouri, Myanmar, China, Chile and Argentina. Following is a brief summary of Latter-day Saint efforts in each of the following areas:


After visiting many of the storm-ravaged areas in southern Missouri and northern Oklahoma, President Creed Jones of the Joplin Missouri Stake said there is still much to be thankful for.

"It is amazing to see people who have lost everything talk about how grateful they are," said President Jones. "We are doing surprisingly well."

On Saturday, May 10, around 5:30 p.m., a tornado touched down in the Midwest area leaving a path of destruction and devastating circumstances. At least 50 member homes have been damaged, ranging from broken windows to destroyed but, fortunately, no members were severely hurt.

"We have been very fortunate," President Jones said. "Everyone is safe and accounted for."

Three wards in the Joplin Missouri Stake were directly affected; however, with the help of friends and family, physical needs are being met.

Despite losing almost every material item owned, for many, disasters are a chance to bring people closer together, said some in the affected area.

"Even though they no longer have their possessions and shelter," President Jones said, "what a blessing it is that they have each other."


Coordinating with United Parcel Service and Atlanta-based CARE, the Church is sending emergency medical supplies to cyclone-devastated Myanmar.

UPS will provide the plane and the fuel. The Church will fill the plane with emergency medical supplies that will be distributed by CARE, a well-known non-governmental organization, to clinics and hospitals in the area, according to Church Welfare Services.

The supplies follow a donation of funds by the Church that were used to purchase large quantities of tarps, blankets, basic food, medical equipment and especially clean drinking water for those in need, according to Church Public Affairs. All those items were purchased in Myanmar or in nearby countries.

More than 1 million people were left homeless after Tropical Cyclone Nargis hit the country formerly known as Burma on May 3.


Church members in Hong Kong are assembling hygiene kits to help those in China's southwest Sichuan province impacted by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake May 12. The disaster killed almost 15,000, injured about 65,000 and left at least 30,000 people buried, most of whom are not expected to survive.

In response to the quake, China's strongest earthquake in more than half a century, the Church will also purchase other supplies in China as needs are identified, according to Church Welfare Services.

Twenty-two BYU students and two faculty members studying at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in Chengdu, China, are doing fine and are in good spirits, said Michael Smart, BYU Media Relations manager. Chengdu is 55 to 60 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.

Brother Smart said the students were in class during the earthquake and are now planning to move up their itinerary and "move on to their next stop on their study abroad experience a little bit sooner than originally planned."


The Church purchased dust masks and eye protection to distribute to Church members and the community impacted by volcanic ash left when the Chaitan volcano erupted in Chile. The volcano started erupting on May 2 for the first time in thousands of years, sending a plume of gas and debris as high as 19 miles into the sky.

Members of the Chaitan Branch in Southern Chile were relocated as a result of the disaster. They are temporarily staying with other Church members or relatives.


The Church is responding to a tornado that touched down in San Vicente, Argentina, destroying homes. In response to the disaster the Church purchased basic supplies so members of the Buenos Aires Argentina Longschamps Stake can provide volunteer labor to help the elderly and other neighbors who need assistance in re-establishing themselves in their homes, according to Church Welfare Services.

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