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Church reports status of missionaries in the path of Hurricane Willa

The Church has reported that all missionaries serving in Mexican communities affected by Hurricane Willa are safe and accounted for.

Meanwhile, local and Mexico Area priesthood and Relief Society leaders were working Thursday to gather information on members and Church-owned properties in west-central Mexico. “Damage assessments are continuing in affected areas,” reported Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.

Hurricane Willa made landfall on Tuesday, Oct. 23, with 120 mph winds toppling homes, ripping off roofs and knocking out power to more than 100,000 homes in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

Emergency workers and federal troops struggled to reach beach towns left incommunicado even as the storm continued to force evacuations due to fear of flooding, according to the Associated Press.

The worst damage was expected to be in a few coastal communities left temporarily inaccessible to outside access thanks to toppled trees and power poles.

Thousands of Mexican soldiers and sailors were being dispatched to affected communities to offer help.

Willa peaked as a Category 5 storm with winds of 155 mph over the Pacific on Monday. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm rapidly lost force and dissipated over northern Mexico Wednesday morning. Rain from Willa continued to fall across 10 Mexican states after the cyclone was downgraded to a tropical storm, the Associated Press reported.

The 2018 hurricane season has affected thousands of Latter-day Saints.

Residents buy drinking water ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Willa in Mazatlan, Mexico, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. A potential catastrophic Hurricane Willa swept toward Mexico’s Pacific coast Monday night, threatening a stretch of high-rise resort hotels, surfing beaches and fishing villages. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
Residents buy drinking water ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Willa in Mazatlan, Mexico, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. A potential catastrophic Hurricane Willa swept toward Mexico’s Pacific coast Monday night, threatening a stretch of high-rise resort hotels, surfing beaches and fishing villages. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) Photo: Marco Ugarte, AP

In mid-September, Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas and flooded the homes of hundreds of member homes.

Residents were relieved when Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane when it reached landfall — but relentless rainfall and inundated rivers prompted flooding across several stakes.

Meanwhile, in early October, Hurricane Michael brought devastating winds, destroying buildings and trees across Florida’s Panhandle and in bordering states.

Scores of Latter-day Saint homes were severely damaged and several meetinghouses were undergoing repairs.

Thousands of volunteer Helping Hands teams have donated tens of thousands of work hours in the aftermath of hurricanes Florence and Michael.

And last weekend, a collection of Church leaders ­ — including President Dallin H. Oaks, Elder David A. Bednar, and Sister Jean B. Bingham — traveled to the Carolinas and Florida to encourage members and give thanks for their ongoing service.

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