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Church members ready to help cleanup after Hurricane Idalia in Florida

Missionaries are safe but several Church buildings have damage from the storm

Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are helping with relief efforts in Florida after Hurricane Idalia made landfall this week.

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, 125 mph winds hit Florida’s Big Bend area on the Gulf Coast — where the peninsula merges into the Panhandle. The hurricane flooded streets, snapped trees, ripped off roofs and cut power in a different area of the state than affected by the deadly and devastating Hurricane Ian almost one year before.

According to news reports, the National Weather Service in Tallahassee called Idalia “an unprecedented event” as no major hurricane on record has passed through the bay abutting the Big Bend.

The remains of a destroyed home built atop a platform on piles are seen in Keaton Beach, Fla.
In this photo made in a flight provided by mediccorps.org, the remains of a destroyed home built atop a platform on piles are seen in Keaton Beach, Fla., following the passage of Hurricane Idalia, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press

Missionaries in Florida and Georgia and the coastal Carolinas were moved out of the path of the storm two days before and are safe, reported a news release on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Hundreds of volunteers from 15 Florida and Alabama stakes are expected to mobilize this weekend to begin cleanup efforts. Command centers are being set up in Church meetinghouses in the cities of Lake City, Chiefland and Madison, and two trucks from the Church are delivering supplies to the area.

Elder M. Andrew Galt, an Area Seventy, is helping to oversee cleanup efforts.

“Lives are changed every time we assist with disaster relief efforts,” he said. “We can help show love to all of God’s children. Through our actions, we testify of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” 

The hurricane caused an estimated $9 billion in damage to the region, with flooding and power outages in Florida and Georgia.

Several Church buildings in Florida sustained damage, explained the news release, including meetinghouses in Cross City, Chiefland, Valdosta, Jacksonville Beach and Perry. The Cross City Branch building has major damage and flooding and is unusable. A Church building in Tifton, Georgia, was also damaged.

This aerial photo shows homes surrounded by floodwaters in Steinhatchee, Fla., Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, left behind by Hurricane Idalia. | Daniel Kozin, Associated Press

The construction site for the Tampa Florida Temple in suburban Valrico was not damaged.

After leaving Florida, the storm brought strong winds to Georgia, then moved offshore along the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina.

Members of the Church and JustServe volunteers gave thousands of hours of volunteer labor last year after Hurricane Ian.

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Debris from homes swept off their lots litters a canal in Horseshoe Beach, Fla.
In this photo taken with a drone, debris from homes swept off their lots litters a canal in Horseshoe Beach, Fla., Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, one day after the passage of Hurricane Idalia. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press
Pick up trucks and debris lie strewn in a canal.
Pickup trucks and debris lie strewn in a canal in Horseshoe Beach, Fla., after the passage of Hurricane Idalia, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press
Debris from homes swept off their lots chokes a canal between homes on stilts that remain standing, in Horseshoe Beach, Fla.
In this photo taken with a drone, debris from homes swept off their lots chokes a canal between homes on stilts that remain standing, in Horseshoe Beach, Fla., Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, one day after the passage of Hurricane Idalia. | Rebecca Blackwell, Associated Press
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