“Church Aids Victims of Hurricanes,” Ensign, Dec. 2008, 76–77
Many people were affected by the 2008 hurricane season. Power outages, flooding, and other physical damages to homes left many without shelter. During Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in August and September, more than 20 Church buildings throughout the Caribbean and the United States were used as shelters. Approximately 35 member homes were destroyed, and more than 250 were seriously damaged.
In an effort to help storm-stricken areas, the Church responded quickly, sending much-needed help and supplies. Priesthood leaders worked with other organizations to distribute supplies.
Hurricane Gustav, the second major hurricane of 2008, formed on August 25, 2008, about 260 miles (420 km) southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and eventually caused serious damage in the Dominican Republic; Haiti; Jamaica; the Cayman Islands; Cuba; and Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas in the United States.
Torrential rain and strong winds blew threw Haiti on August 26, as Hurricane Gustav left people homeless and without many necessities. At least four major storms hit the area during the 2008 hurricane season (Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike).
The Church sent three planeloads of supplies to Port-au-Prince, and priesthood leaders worked with multiple organizations to help distribute the aid. Included in the supplies were hygiene kits, hand soap, cleaning kits, tents, generators, plastic sheeting, hammers, and nails. The Church also sent additional funds to purchase food and other necessary relief supplies.
Many Church members in Haiti assisted in putting together and organizing relief supplies that were then distributed to areas of need.
In addition to the relief efforts in Haiti, aid was sent to help victims in the southern United States, also hard hit by the storms. The Church donated more than 20 truckloads of supplies, including more than 7 truckloads of hygiene kits (103,600) and 11 truckloads of cleaning kits (22,176). Food boxes intended to feed a family of four were distributed to some 1,200 families. Each food box included rice, vegetable oil, peanut butter, fruit drink mix, and assorted canned goods.
Additional assistance from the bishops’ storehouse in Slidell, Louisiana, provided food, water, generators, tools, sleeping bags, chain saws, tarps, and other smaller items.
The third major hurricane of 2008, Hurricane Ike, stormed through Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and the United States, leaving a trail of destruction in early September 2008. States in the U.S. affected included Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
In preparation for Hurricane Ike, the Church sent supplies to Slidell, Louisiana, and to Houston, Carrollton, Lufkin, and San Antonio, Texas. More than 9,000 cleaning kits were distributed to the various areas before the storm hit.
Other supplies sent as part of the prepositioning strategy included a supply of food and hygiene products along with assorted emergency supplies. Included were blankets, sleeping bags, work gloves, chain saws, wheelbarrows, first aid kits, cots, tents, and water.
In response to the destruction, approximately 18,500 member volunteer hours were given over a two-day period by approximately 1,300 cleanup workers. During the two-day period about 2,500 projects were completed.