“Members Cope with Effects of Tornado, Floods,” Ensign, Aug. 2002, 77–78
Members were among those affected by four recent natural disasters, but in each case they escaped serious injury.
When a level F-5 tornado hit La Plata, Maryland, on 28 April, it left 5 people dead, 738 homes damaged, and 49 businesses destroyed. Three LDS families lost property as a result of the storm. The tornado was the second worst ever to strike the eastern coast of the United States.
Along with providing disaster supplies, food, and building materials to the community, the Church offered its facilities to three other churches that were damaged by the tornado. Schoolchildren from a local private school met in a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse until schools adjourned in June.
As part of the massive cleanup effort, missionaries and members helped clean debris and organized meals for the volunteers and victims. They also helped sort the many commodities sent to relief agencies.
In Panama during May, heavy rains brought some flooding to the northwestern part of the country. At least 400 people in rural areas were forced from their homes. Members of one LDS family lost their home and all their possessions. Another 14 member families were left in need of basic supplies. Local Church leaders assisted members with food, clothing, shelter, and medicine.
The heavy rains of May also brought flooding in areas of Honduras and Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, some 30,000 people were affected, including 600 member families; many of these members were staying with friends and neighbors. No members were reported among those evacuated in Honduras. Local Church leaders provided aid for members in need in the affected areas. At the request of the government of Nicaragua, the Church shipped two container loads of food, clothing, and personal hygiene kits to help with relief efforts.
In Chile, the heaviest rains in 100 years caused flooding that affected as many as 100,000 people and killed 9. No Church members were injured. The homes of 170 member families sustained damage, but welfare funds were used to provide for emergency repairs and relief supplies. Two Church meetinghouses sustained minor flood damage.