Church leaders give safety report for members, missionaries in Tokyo affected by Typhoon Hagibis

As Typhoon Hagibis made landfall on Saturday evening in Japan, the storm brought a record 36 inches of rain in a 24 hour period. Flooding and high wind speeds wreaked havoc throughout the greater Tokyo area leaving a reported 33 people dead and 19 missing. Several river embankments collapsed as a result of the heavy rains and flooding. Transportation systems, including Narita and Haneda airports, remained closed throughout the weekend as the storm passed. 

According to news reports out of Tokyo, rescue efforts are in the central, eastern and northeastern regions where there have been landslides as a result of the flooding. All evacuation advisories have been lifted as of Sunday in Tokyo and transportation services are expected to resume throughout Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday morning in Japan, the Church’s area offices in Tokyo confirmed that all missionaries serving throughout the Tokyo North, Tokyo South, Nagoya and Sapporo areas were safe and accounted for by their mission presidents. In Tokyo North, several missionaries spent Saturday night at a community evacuation center, but their safety was confirmed as well. The area offices of the Church are still waiting to confirm the safety of all Church employees in the area.

Residents Kazuo Saito, right, and Sumiko Saito clean up their home Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Kawagoe City, Japan. Typhoon Hagibis dropped record amounts of rain for a period in some spots, according to meteorological officials, causing more than 20 rivers to overflow. Some of the muddy waters in streets, fields and residential areas have subsided. But many places remained flooded, with homes and surrounding roads covered in mud and littered with broken wooden pieces and debris. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Residents Kazuo Saito, right, and Sumiko Saito clean up their home Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Kawagoe City, Japan. Typhoon Hagibis dropped record amounts of rain for a period in some spots, according to meteorological officials, causing more than 20 rivers to overflow. Some of the muddy waters in streets, fields and residential areas have subsided. But many places remained flooded, with homes and surrounding roads covered in mud and littered with broken wooden pieces and debris. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) Credit: AP

With airports and trains being shut down over the weekend and operations suspended throughout the metropolitan and surrounding areas in Tokyo, the Asia North Area presidency of the Church reported that they have, as of yet, been unable to reach Tokyo in the aftermath of the storm.

Elder Yoon Hwan Choi, General Authority Seventy and President of the Church’s Asia North Area, said that Church staff in the Tokyo area have been working diligently to follow up with stake presidents and bishops to verify members’ safety and determine needs of members in affected areas as emergency response begins. Reports of damage to members homes has been minimal and no members have been reported as injured. No reports have yet been made about the condition of Church meetinghouses throughout the affected areas.

The Church offices in Japan have been working closely with the Japan Volunteer Organization Active in Disaster and local volunteer centers to gather information. 

Elder Takashi Wada, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Asia North Area presidency, noted that stakes throughout Japan have cancelled their showings of general conference over the weekend to ensure members’ safety in the aftermath of the storm. 

President Justin Cook, president of the Tokyo Japan South Stake (English), noted that all but two members in that stake — with wards and branches in the Kanto, Misawa, and Iwakuni areas — were unaffected by the storm. 

“One of our families had their home flooded due to a levy breach on the Tamagawa River,” President Cook stated in an email to the Church News. Another member of that stake was evacuated to a shelter as a precaution but was able to return to her residence safely as it did not receive any damage.

More than 30 members from the Tokyo Japan South Stake (English) showed up to help in the neighborhood where a member family’s home flooded, President Cook said.

Typhoon-damaged cars sit on the street covered with mud Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Hoyasu, Japan. Rescue crews in Japan dug through mudslides and searched near swollen rivers Monday as they looked for those missing from typhoon Hagibis that left as many as 36 dead and caused serious damage in central and northern Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Typhoon-damaged cars sit on the street covered with mud Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Hoyasu, Japan. Rescue crews in Japan dug through mudslides and searched near swollen rivers Monday as they looked for those missing from typhoon Hagibis that left as many as 36 dead and caused serious damage in central and northern Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Credit: AP

“Our members brought food, support, cleaning supplies and many hugs and words of encouragement,” he said. And with so many members there to help, many members were able to assist neighboring families and homes in the affected neighborhood. 

“We are so grateful for the blessing of safety that we have experienced,” President Cook said. “With 1,600 members in our stake, it is a miracle that not more experienced damage to their property or danger to their lives. Today has been a small opportunity for our members to minister to each other and to our neighbors in Tokyo who we love.”