Members Bring Hope to U.S. Flood Victims

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“Members Bring Hope to U.S. Flood Victims,” Ensign, Sept. 2008, 75–76

Members Bring Hope to U.S. Flood Victims

Throughout the midwestern United States, color-coded signs hanging outside buildings indicated the level of structural damage caused by the historic flooding that occurred between June 7 and July 1, 2008. More than 40 homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received a purple placard from city inspectors. Such homes were considered beyond repair and were destroyed.

However, while purple signaled demolition, another color, yellow, came to symbolize service as hundreds of Church members and missionaries donned yellow Mormon Helping Hands T-shirts during sandbagging and other relief efforts.

Appreciation for those in yellow T-shirts surfaced as the floodwaters came and went. For instance, after inspectors marked his home “unlivable but repairable,” Dustin Kane, a 35-year-old single father, received help from members of the Cedar Falls Ward, who ripped out contaminated flooring and provided a generator for power washing. Dustin’s mother, Nan, was impressed with the group’s selflessness.

“These are people who didn’t even know us, but they opened their arms and were so helpful and so kind, and nobody gave up,” Mrs. Kane said.

To help flood victims, the Church sent 26,000 cleaning kits and 15,000 hygiene kits, which members distributed. Members also worked with other relief organizations as needed.

The Cedar Rapids stake set up a relief warehouse filled with the wheelbarrows, shovels, and work clothes the Church sent. Being the most heavily impacted by the flooding, the stake also received funds to purchase power washers and generators. The community received the relief efforts with open arms.

The swollen waters killed at least 20, left thousands homeless, and resulted in damages of U.S. $5 billion to North America’s farmlands. The homes of several Church members were affected, but none were reported as being torn down.

In Nauvoo, Illinois, sandbagging efforts prevented floodwaters from damaging historical landmarks. Elder Vern Whisenant, a public affairs missionary in Nauvoo, said events in Nauvoo proceeded as normal in June and July.

This summer season, Church directors felt inspired to move the Nauvoo Pageant from the Sunset by the Mississippi site, which became submerged during the flooding, to a spot near the Nauvoo temple. The new Nauvoo Outdoor Stage sits on top of a hill well above the flood plain.

Members in their yellow Helping Hands T-shirts volunteer at the flooded home of Jeff and Melissa Smith.

Photograph by Laure Shaerr