“Members Reach Out to Help Quake Victims,” Ensign, Apr. 1994, 80
Within hours of a January 17 earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, southern California ward-, stake-, and region-wide emergency plans were in effect, linking those in need with the hundreds of Church members offering assistance. Those plans have continued throughout the ensuing weeks as the impact of the earthquake has been discovered.
For several days following the temblor, more than five hundred people gathered at a temporary tent city that sprang up on the playing field of the San Fernando Valley meetinghouse. “We had countless examples of members serving one another and those of other faiths,” said Jose G. Lombardo, president of the San Fernando California (Spanish) Stake.
Members and missionaries worked closely with assistance centers set up by national disaster organizations. Missionaries provided translation services at Red Cross centers and federal emergency agencies. Members donated diapers, baby food, formula, hygiene products, over-the-counter medicines, and paper goods to these clearinghouses. “Forty truckloads of goods from fifteen stakes have gone to agencies to distribute to the larger community,” observed Reid J. Gunnell, counselor in the California Arcadia Mission.
Many stakes and individuals made unique contributions to assist victims of the quake.
Many members reported a sense of increased gratitude and a deeper understanding of the Church’s directives on preparedness.
“I learned that miracles can happen,” reported Barbara C. Myler, director of public affairs for the San Fernando-Santa Clarita Region. “One of the reasons we have our food storage is to open our homes and supplies so that we can care for others. Following the quake, we never worried if there would be enough food, water, or fuel. We knew what we had stored was to be shared.”—Mary Kay Stout, associate director for media relations, southern California public affairs council