Historic Help Remembered in Sandbagging Effort

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“Historic Help Remembered in Sandbagging Effort,” Ensign, Sept. 2008, 76

Historic Help Remembered in Sandbagging Effort

During heavy flooding across the central United States in June, full-time missionaries joined in sandbagging efforts in many areas, including the city of Quincy, Illinois.

For two days, on June 18 and 19, 2008, more than 130 missionaries from the Illinois Peoria and Nauvoo Missions and the Missouri St. Louis Mission helped prevent flood damage to the city that once provided refuge for early Saints exiled from Missouri.

“I cannot put into words, quite frankly, how much it meant to us to have members of the ministry group from the Latter-day Saints, the young and the old, men and women, pitch in and help us like that,” said Quincy mayor John Spring.

National Guard troops, prison inmates, missionaries, and others assembled about 25,000 sandbags per hour on June 18 and supplied 1.2 million sandbags in less than a week.

The missionaries considered the two days spent sandbagging a small way to pay back the city of Quincy for its hospitality to early Church members.

In February 1839, heavy persecution stemming from the Mormon Extermination Order1 in Missouri forced nearly 10,000 Church members to flee to various locations in Illinois and Iowa. Quincy’s 1,500 residents sheltered more than 5,000 members. Quincy provided the exiled Saints with clothes, jobs, and protection for a few months before the Prophet Joseph Smith led them 40 miles north to establish Nauvoo.

During the flooding, missionaries also helped with many other sandbagging efforts throughout the Midwest, including towns south of Indianapolis, Indiana; Fort Madison and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and in Niota and Dallas City, Illinois.

Missionaries from Illinois and Missouri fill sandbags in Quincy, Illinois.

Photograph by Lee Lyon