More than 1,400 members from six surrounding states converged on southern Louisiana Sept. 27 to help Houma residents dig out from the aftermath of two September hurricanes.
Hailing from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, they joined volunteers from the Realizing the Dream Foundation, the AFL-CIO and local churches and groups.
Also on Sept. 27, nearly 1,300 members from throughout Texas worked on Galveston Island, which had been closed for nearly two weeks after Hurricane Ike.
The massive response and organization in Houma had event officials — including Martin Luther King III, son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and president of Realizing the Dream — asking if the Church had a manual to share.
"The nature of our response cannot be found in a manual," said Elder John S. Anderson, an Area Seventy. "The Latter-day Saints respond because we love the Lord; we love our fellow man and we have the desire to bless them just as the Savior did."
Said Mr. King: "As one of the major religious institutions of our world, you personify the ethic of service. I hope to be working with you over and over again."
Also greeting volunteers at daybreak were Elder Robert C. Gay, Area Seventy; Michel Claudet, president of Terrebonne Parish; and Brenda Dardar Robichaux, chief of the Houma Nation.
"You came without compensation," said Mr. Claudet to the volunteers. "You came without complaint."
A local LDS meetinghouse and another community church served as dual staging areas.
Pastor Rene Monette told his Living Word church members, "We are opening our facility to the Mormon Church, and everybody just began to clap, they began to cheer. They were excited."
Teamsters unloaded supply-laden semis — two from the Church Welfare Department containing cleaning and hygiene kits and equipment, and three FEMA trucks with food, water and ice.