Volunteers Turn Out to Help Storm Victims in Nevada

Contributed By Curtis Palmer, Church News contributor

  • 14 August 2014

David Haws, stake president, left, and Alan Rogers of the Clear Creek Ward take a break from shoveling dirt. The dark area on the side of the house shows how high the water and mud were against the Olson home.  Photo courtesy of Curtis Palmer.

Article Highlights

  • Many volunteers from the Carson City Nevada Stake, along with missionaries and community members, came together to help the Olson family clean their property after a storm.


When our children sing the song about how the rains came down and the floods came up, they fail to tell us about the mud that comes with the flood. But the residences of Minden, Nevada, on Mac Drive know firsthand how much mud comes with the floods.

On Sunday, July 20, the rains came in force for about 20 minutes. “It started raining and hailing; we were getting it on video and then heard a loud noise, and the whole mountain started coming down in our backyard,” recalls Daylin Olson, a resident of Mac Drive who resides in the Piñon Hills Ward boundaries.

Left in the wake of the torrential rains was mud and debris all around the Olson home—up to six feet deep in places. Inspecting the damage after the rains stopped, the family found several feet of mud in the garage, a mud-filled swimming pool, and their extensive landscaping all but erased.

At the prompting of a co-worker’s Facebook post, Heather Schembari of the Clear Creek Ward in the Carson City Nevada Stake heard of Mrs. Olson’s devastation and paid a visit to see how she could help the Olson family. She set the wheels of help in motion by contacting Beth Francis, the emergency preparation specialist for the Carson City Nevada Stake.

Volunteers work on the west side of the Olson property and along the back fence to help clean up their property after torrential downpours left mud and debris. Photo courtesy of Curtis Palmer.

Volunteers work to help the Olsons clean up their property after floods on July 20. The Olsons are not members of the Church, but several volunteers from the Carson City Nevada Stake turned out to help them. Photo courtesy of Curtis Palmer.

A photo shows the devastation from the flash flood in Minden, Nevada, on July 20, 2014. Mud and sediment is halfway up the door. Photo courtesy of Curtis Palmer.

Cleanup efforts at the Olson property to remove tons of sand and dirt that washed down from the nearby hills following the flash flood in Minden, Nevada. Photo courtesy of Curtis Palmer.

Sister Francis contacted several local Church leaders, informing them of the plight of the Olson family. The family was contacted and plans were made to provide service, with the cleanup effort in the form of Church volunteers.

Stake President David Haws sent an email to Church leaders within the stake asking for help. “We have contacted the Olson family and have found that they are deeply in need of assistance. I am calling upon the brothers and sisters of the Nevada Carson City Stake to provide assistance in helping the family to recover from this tragic event,” wrote President Haws in his email communication to bishops in his stake.

President Haws expressed in his email that providing service to others follows the example of Jesus Christ. “This is a great opportunity to demonstrate our love for our neighbor and our community. We need to demonstrate that there are those who do care about their neighbor’s well-being,” he wrote.

Early Saturday, August 2, volunteers started arriving at the Olson home armed with rakes, shovels, and brooms. In a few short hours, and with the aide of tractors, hundreds of cubic yards of dirt and debris were removed from the property. Three other houses in the cul-de-sac were damaged, but the Olson home took the brunt of the damage.

Among the many volunteers were members of the Church, friends, community members, and full-time missionaries serving in the area. The cleanup effort continued throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Much work remains to be done for those living in the areas affected by the storm, which members of the stake plan to help participate in over the next few weeks.

President Haws expressed his gratitude for those who helped, and continue to help, in the cleanup efforts. “On behalf of the Church, our heartfelt gratitude goes out to those who volunteered their time on this project.”