Hurricane season keeps residents and Church members in the Gulf Coast on their toes from June to November each year. While many worked to provide aid for those in need during past hurricanes, much of the relief came from the Church.
After Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, the Church delivered 4.9 million pounds of food and water to those in need. Following Hurricane Ike, Latter-day Saint volunteers assisted in completing “work orders” in more than 2,000 homes in Galveston. Volunteers also provided assistance at the homes of more than 100 first responders in Galveston County, while these local firefighters, police officers and paramedics were out helping those in the community.
Ed Emmett, the County Judge of Harris County in Texas, is one of the county’s highest administrative officials and is responsible for disaster relief. Recently touring a Church welfare facility, Judge Emmett said he believes that the Church is “a huge asset like no other in times of crisis.”
“The Church produces 250,000 jars of peanut butter for the Houston food bank alone, but they do so much more,” Judge Emmett said while touring the local Church cannery. “They have a warehouse here that’s already got food. As soon as they know that there’s a storm in the Gulf, they start loading 18-wheelers in other parts of the country to bring relief supplies in.”
During disasters, Judge Emmett’s office determines who in the community needs help, where they are located and then directs government and private resources to provide relief. Serving in this capacity is no small task as Harris County is the third most populous county in the nation with more than 4 million residents and is the hub for more than 6 million people living in the Houston metro area.
“[Latter-day Saints] want to be part of disaster relief in a broader sense, so they’re a fit,” Judge Emmett said.
Brent Rawson, president of the Klein Texas Stake, told Judge Emmett that the Church wants to be even more effective in the future.
“We feel that this is the best way that we can plug in to that system to be of help — to care and actually get our members and people that we live around involved in helping one another during these times,” President Rawson said.