“Church Offers Disaster Aid to Victims Worldwide,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 78–80
Church Offers Disaster Aid to Victims Worldwide
Church Responds to Quake, Typhoon in Japan
Japan was reeling after being struck by Typhoon Man-Yi from the south and shaken by a 6.8 earthquake in the north.
At least 9 people were killed and more than 800 were injured on July 16, 2007, when the reported 6.8 magnitude quake struck the west coast of Japan near Kashiwazaki, where 300 of the estimated 800 damaged or destroyed homes were located.
About 9,000 people spent time at makeshift evacuation centers, and tens of thousands were left without power, gas, or running water for days.
The home of one member family was destroyed by the quake. An elderly member was inside when it collapsed, but was rescued with only minor scratches. All other missionaries and members were reported safe.
The quake could be felt in Tokyo, more than 125 miles to the south of the epicenter.
Man-Yi, a typhoon with sustained winds of 100 mph, swept the southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku on July 15, 2007, killing three people and injuring 70 more. About 30,000 people were evacuated from their homes. Reports list 15 homes destroyed and another 1,500 flooded. One member home was damaged earlier as the typhoon passed over Okinawa, but no members or missionaries were reported injured, and no Church property was damaged.
Following both disasters, local priesthood leaders worked with government officials to determine how the Church could be of assistance.
Church Provides Relief to Community Affected by Wildfire
The Church sent donations from the Humanitarian Aid Fund to the local Red Cross chapter on June 26, 2007, in response to a blaze that forced hundreds of residents from their homes in Meyers, California, near Lake Tahoe.
As part of their emergency response plan, Fallon Nevada Stake leaders made emergency supplies available to evacuees and those in need. Items included hygiene kits and blankets prepared by members. While most evacuees stayed in hotels, the Church offered the local meetinghouse as a shelter if needed.
The fire destroyed 276 buildings and homes, randomly skipping some homes and demolishing others. The neighborhoods affected are made up of cabins, modest homes, and million-dollar vacation retreats.
More than 1,800 firefighters, aided by seven helicopters, were involved in trying to suppress the fire that threatened another 500 homes.
One member family is among those who lost their homes and most of their possessions. They are currently living with relatives. At least 17 other member homes in the Meyers area were threatened and the families were evacuated.
Church Sends Aid to Flooded Areas of United States
The Church provided more than 12,000 cleaning kits and 18,000 hygiene kits to those in need in 14 separate locations in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas after storms pounded the area with heavy rain for two weeks.
Hundreds of members in many communities helped affected families clean out flooded homes. The kits provided by the Church included liquid bleach, dish soap, rubber gloves, safety goggles, sponges, dust masks, and trash bags.
Local Church leaders and members distributed most of the items to the flood victims. Recipients of the kits have expressed great appreciation for the manpower and in-kind assistance provided by the Church.
At least 1,000 people were forced out of their homes in southeastern Kansas. In North Texas heavy rains dumped up to an inch (2.5 cm) of water every 15 minutes at one point, killing 11 people in the resulting floods and sweeping homes from foundations.
In Gainesville, Texas, some 500 homes were flooded. In Sherman, at least 300 people in apartments and nursing homes were evacuated, and waters flooded about 100 mobile homes in Haltom City, a suburb of Fort Worth.
All members and missionaries were safe and accounted for. However, at least three member families are among those whose homes were affected, with one of those families experiencing waist-deep water flooding their home. A Church building in Seminole, Texas, also received significant wind and rain damage, and a meetinghouse in Gainesville received some minor water damage and is being evaluated.
Earthquake Shakes Guatemala, El Salvador
A powerful 6.8 earthquake rattled Guatemala and El Salvador, swaying buildings for 30 seconds but causing no deaths, on June 13, 2007.
The quake struck in the Pacific Ocean, 70 miles from Guatemala City at a depth of about 40 miles. There was no threat of a tsunami.
Despite the magnitude of the earthquake, the countries escaped virtually unscathed—unlike when two earthquakes struck El Salvador in 2001 and killed more than 1,150 people, most of them in mudslides near San Salvador, the capital.
Reports from the Central America Area Office indicated there were no deaths or injuries to members or missionaries as a result of this quake. Local priesthood leaders helped assess potential needs.
Church Helps Fund Relief to Colombia Flood Victims
The Church sent emergency funds to several regions of Colombia where more than 50 people died and thousands were left homeless after severe flooding took place in the early weeks of June.
Heavy rains have affected large parts of the country, with the north particularly badly hit. The rain has triggered mudslides and damaged or destroyed 270,000 homes and businesses since the rainy season began in March 2007.
Members Pitch In after Australia Flooding
Members and missionaries left church after sacrament meetings on Sunday, June 10, 2007, to join sandbagging and cleanup efforts as flooding in New South Wales, Australia, caused nine deaths and left insurance companies bracing for a bill that could exceed AUS $300 million.
The floodwaters forced an estimated 1,700 families from their homes. State Emergency Services logged a total of 13,830 calls for help over the weekend of flooding.
Some businesses in the retail area of Wallsend and industrial precinct of Cardiff might never recover, said Hunter Business Chamber chief Doug Parish to The Australian.
On Tuesday, June 12, 2007, more than 30,000 homes were still without power, down from the 130,000 homes that were without power over the weekend.
Floodwaters at Chittaway Bay, near Tuggerah Lake, eventually receded allowing more than 400 residents to return to their homes.