“Church, Members Aid Flood Victims,” Ensign, Aug. 1986, 77
Saints in Bolivia and Jamaica have received help through general Church programs, Church units, individual Saints, and other benefactors in the aftermath of flooding that left many members among the homeless in those areas.
During the early months of 1986, Lake Titicaca in Bolivia rose ten to twelve feet as a result of rainstorms inundating 27,000 acres of land. More than two hundred Latter-day Saints in five Bolivian communities were among those who lost part or all of their land to the lake. Approximately forty LDS families were left homeless.
These members have received food through Church programs and other donors, and they are currently living in tents furnished by the government of the United States, reported President F. Melvin Hammond of the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission. Using tools donated by the Church for loan to individuals, many are harvesting what is left of their crops. But they will face further difficulty, President Hammond said, after the food they can harvest is used.
Some of them are building homes farther up the mountain slopes, he said, but they have nowhere else to farm until the lake recedes, since other arable land is privately owned.
Experts have estimated that it will take four to eight years for the lake to recede. But it dropped more than sixteen inches in about six weeks after Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve, visiting Bolivia for a regional conference on the last weekend in April, offered a prayer on the shore of the lake, imploring the Lord to stop the rains.
Bolivian members observed a special day of fasting and prayer in March for the aid of those facing the flooding. Fasting members donated $1,500 toward relief—a “tremendous” effort given their general level of income, President Hammond said. A ward in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sent another $350 toward food for those in need.
As many as one hundred people may have lost their lives as a result of flooding in Jamaica in mid-June, but no Church members were reported killed.
More than thirty Church members were among those left homeless. They were being temporarily housed in their chapel, a large, rented home.
Some six thousand pounds of relief materials were sent to Jamaica from the Church’s storehouse in Atlanta, Georgia. Clothing and mattresses were gathered by members in the Atlanta area.