Members Deal with Effects of Typhoons, Floods, Fire

“Members Deal with Effects of Typhoons, Floods, Fire,” Ensign, Dec. 1997, 67–68

Members Deal with Effects of Typhoons, Floods, Fire

In areas around the world recently, members have felt the effect of natural disasters and been forced to cope with the aftermath.

In Taiwan, one member was killed by a typhoon.

In all of the areas, there were members whose property was damaged or destroyed, or whose lives were disrupted, but their immediate needs were met through assistance from other members or local Church units.

A forest fire burned parts of northern California during September. In the Yuba City California Stake, five homes of members were destroyed and the home of another member family was damaged. No Church property was damaged, but one Church meetinghouse was used as a temporary shelter for 16 members. In the community, about 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes and 80 buildings were destroyed, including 20 homes.

“When the fires came, the bishop, elders quorum president, and Relief Society president were all out of town,” says Larry DeLeeuw, first counselor in the bishopric of the Loma Rica Ward, where most of the fire damage occurred. “But we opened the meetinghouse and assigned families to different classrooms. The Relief Society provided meals for two full days.”

Volunteer crews soon began salvage and cleanup work. Several member families lived with other members until permanent replacement housing could be arranged. “Members pitched in and took care of everything,” said Brother DeLeeuw.

The forest fire was the second disaster to hit the area during 1997. In January, flooding caused evacuations and damage in the same locality.

During August, Typhoon Winnie struck Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. Elder Cree-L Kofford of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Asia Area Presidency, reported that all missionaries were safe. In Taiwan one sister was killed, two member families were relocated, three other member homes were flooded, and the basement of one Church meetinghouse was flooded. The typhoon killed 24 people in Taiwan and 19 people in China and caused nearly a million people to be evacuated and damages in excess of one billion dollars.

Typhoon Winnie also reached the Philippines, where it caused extensive flooding. Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy, President of the Philippines-Micronesia Area, reported that all missionaries and members were safe. As many as 250 Church members were evacuated from their homes during the flooding, but most were soon able to return. Local Church leaders provided assistance to members from local fast offerings, and the Area Presidency arranged for a contribution to the Philippines Red Cross to help victims of the flooding.

In Chile, extraordinary rains caused serious flooding. Elder Dallas N. Archibald of the Seventy, President of the Chile Area, reported that all missionaries and members were safe. One member family lost almost all their belongings when their home was flooded, and 10 other member families were temporarily evacuated from their homes. No damage to Church property was reported. One Church meetinghouse was used briefly as an emergency shelter. During the flooding 10 people were killed from flash floods and high water on the coast, and roads were blocked and communications hampered.

Allen Hetrick, Loma Rica Ward, Yuba City California Stake, surveys ashes of his home, destroyed by forest fire. (Photo by Lee Smith.)