Natural Disasters Affect Members

“Natural Disasters Affect Members,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 75–76

Natural Disasters Affect Members

During January, ice storms hit large parts of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. In Montreal and Ottawa, several missionary apartments, member homes, and Church buildings were without power for several days. Emergency generators shipped from the Indianapolis Bishops’ Central Storehouse provided power and heat at Church meetinghouses. Church leaders, home teachers, and visiting teachers provided assistance to affected members.

Typhoon Martin struck the Cook Islands in the central Pacific late last year. The storm’s 90-mile-an-hour winds swept over small atolls that barely rise above sea level, with the islands of Pukapuka and Manihiki suffering the worst damage. Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the Seventy, President of the Pacific Area, reported that all missionaries were safe and that no Church property was damaged. Church humanitarian funds were donated.

Cyclone Osea hit the Society Islands, part of French Polynesia, in the central Pacific in November 1997. Of the 80 member homes on the island of Maupiti, 77 were destroyed. Four member homes on the island of Bora Bora were destroyed. The Church meetinghouse on Maupiti received minor damage and was used as an emergency shelter for members and others. Elder Featherstone reported that all missionaries and members were safe.

Drought conditions related to El Niño have led to serious water and food shortages in Papua New Guinea. Elder Featherstone reported that all members and missionaries are safe but that many member families are at risk. The Area Presidency has arranged to provide food to members, and local priesthood leaders are working closely with the Salvation Army.

Cyclone Ron struck the Tongan island of Niuafo’ou in January. Elder Featherstone reported that all missionaries and members were safe, but their homes were destroyed, as was the home where Church meetings were held.

With wind gusts that exceeded 230 miles per hour, Typhoon Paka struck Guam in December 1997. Power and water were not available in most areas, and nearly all roads were blocked for a time. Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy, President of the Philippines-Micronesia Area, reported that all members and missionaries were safe. One missionary apartment was seriously damaged, and all member families sustained some water damage to their homes, with two member homes destroyed.