The Church is donating $250,000 in New Zealand dollars — more than $155,000 in U.S. dollars — worth of supplies and funds to help in Cyclone Gabrielle recovery, as well as flood relief efforts in Auckland from late January.
The Pacific Area Presidency detailed the donations in a Pacific Newsroom release on Feb. 23.
Elder K. Brett Nattress, General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Pacific Area said, “Our hearts are with all those suffering at this time. Jesus taught us to help the poor and the distressed. These monetary donations and supplies will help us contribute to the overall work being done by government and other organizations. The donations are made possible by the generous giving of Latter-day Saints and others to the humanitarian fund of the Church.”
The Category 3 tropical cyclone began to bombard the north island of New Zealand on Sunday, Feb. 12, with conditions worsening through the next day. On Tuesday, Feb. 14, the nation declared a national state of emergency — only the third time in its history.
The cyclone came just weeks after record-breaking rain hit northern New Zealand.
A donation of funds, bottled water, hygiene kits and women’s personal items are being delivered to Ngāti Kahungunu Incorporated for the organization to distribute through its networks.
Water, hygiene kits and women’s personal items will also be sent to Hastings and Wairoa.
Church members and missionaries in Hawke’s Bay, Wairoa, Gisborne, East Coast, Northland, Auckland and other communities are helping to clean up homes, yards and streets.
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins described the storm, which caused widespread damage and claimed 12 lives, as the country’s most damaging natural disaster in at least a generation, according to the AP.
Torrential rain caused flooding and landslides, knocking out power and communications and displacing many residents. Around 250 state highways and local roads remained closed as of Feb. 23, and crews were repairing 400 kilometers (249 miles) of highway.
Hundreds of homes and businesses are uninhabitable.
The Pacific Area Presidency invited members of the Church to fast and pray for those impacted by the cyclone. A special countrywide fast will be held on March 5.
On Monday, Feb. 13, Elder Nattress issued a statement encouraging Church members to heed the advice of government and other authorities and to have a plan, be prepared and stay safe.
He also promised the Church would work with government and other organizations to help neighbors and communities after the storm.
“Our members are wonderful,” Elder Nattress said. “We’ve seen time and again how they go out and lend a hand to neighbors after floods and other challenging circumstances. As followers of Jesus Christ, we do what we can to relieve suffering and to bring peace and hope.”