“Storms Tear through Utah Towns, Members Respond,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 128
A tornado roared through a southeast section of Manti, Utah, on 8 September, destroying six homes and causing more than U.S. $1 million in damage.
The Manti Utah Temple was undamaged, as were other Church properties, says Douglas Dyreng, president of the Manti Utah Stake.
“The amazing thing is that no one was injured; no one received so much as a scratch from the whole thing,” President Dyreng noted.
Hundreds of homes were damaged by the twister, and some were left uninhabitable. The tornado was categorized as an F2 on the Fujita scale. The scale ranges from F0 to F6, and F2 tornadoes are those with winds of 113 to 157 miles per hour (182 to 253 km per hour).
“Church members helped immediately to relieve those who had difficulty with their homes,” President Dyreng says. “They went right to work to board up windows, patch up roofs, and move people out who couldn’t stay in their homes.”
Neighborhoods sustaining the worst devastation were in the boundaries of the Manti Third Ward and the Manti Fifth Ward. The third ward was in the middle of Sunday afternoon meetings when a tremendous hailstorm hit and the power went out. The bishop asked heads of households to go home and “see to their property” while other family members were kept in the building until it could be determined it was safe to leave.
Meetings in the fifth ward, where most of the damage was sustained, had concluded shortly before the storm hit.
The stake president said the experience demonstrated the power of Mother Nature and of good people. “We’ve learned … how wonderful people are when tragedy strikes, how all kinds of people call and volunteer to help,” he says. “I received calls from the [Utah South] Area Presidency, from Church Humanitarian Services, from the Red Cross, and others. Everybody you can think of was willing to offer a hand. It is amazing to see how much man cares for his fellowman.”
In Santaquin, Utah, massive mudflows engulfed homes on 12 September, impacting several member families. Wildfires from the previous year had left nearby mountainsides vulnerable to heavy rains in September, causing the mudslides.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles attended Santaquin Eighth Ward’s sacrament meeting three days after the slides and offered comfort to those in need and praise for those who had helped.
“When this is all cleaned up and it’s over … you will know each other better,” Elder Ballard said. “You will have a sense of a community of Saints that will be unique to your area. You will have a tendency to love one another and to reach out to one another in a most unusual way.”
Elder Ballard joined Santaquin Utah Stake president Philip B. Rowley and others in touring the stricken neighborhood. Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, President of the Utah South Area, also visited neighborhoods in Santaquin and nearby Spring Lake.
“I was impressed with the truth that people really are good at heart and want to help other people,” Elder Groberg noted.