In the moments following a devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Church began organizing a humanitarian response to assist the legions affected by the Jan. 12 disaster.
“We express our sympathy and prayers on behalf of the citizens of Haiti following the recent devastating earthquake,” said Church spokesman Scott Trotter. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is immediately shipping humanitarian relief including personal hygiene kits and supplies for newborns.”
All missionaries serving in the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission are safe, according to Lynn Samsel, the Church’s Emergency Response director, on Wednesday morning, Jan. 13.
“We are waiting for further word on members and Church facilities,” he added.
Two planes, one departing from Denver, Colo., as early as Jan. 14 and another leaving from Miami a day or two later, will each include more than 80,000 pounds of food and emergency provisions such as tents, tarps, water filtration bottles and medical supplies donated by the Church. Transportation of the shipment is being provided by Airline Ambassadors. A second organization, Food for the Poor, will aid with distribution of goods in Haiti.
Donations for relief efforts may be made at give.lds.org/emergencyresponse.
“We are constantly assessing needs to determine how our resources can directly help the people of Haiti,” said Nate Leishman, manager of the Church’s humanitarian emergency response efforts. “We are fully committed to this ongoing process and doing our best to help wherever we can.”
Communication with Haiti was still a challenge a day after the 7.0-magnitude quake. Brother Samsel said a team from the Church offices in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, would be traveling via land to Haiti to better assess the situation.
The Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince was largely destroyed in the most powerful temblor to hit the island nation in two centuries, according to the Associated Press. No official casualty data had been reported a day following the quake, but many believe the number will reach into the thousands. The destruction has left tens of thousands of people homeless. Journalists in Haiti called the National Palace “a crumbled ruin.”
The Church is relatively young in Haiti. The first baptisms in the West Indies nation were performed in 1978. A branch was organized later that year followed by the creation of the Haiti District in 1982.
In 1983, President Thomas S. Monson blessed the land of Haiti while serving as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.
A year later, the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission was created. Haiti’s first stake, the Port-au-Prince Stake, was formed in 1997. Today there are two stakes in the country.
More than 15,000 members of the Church live in Haiti.