Historic Flooding in Louisiana, Fires in California Prompt Church Response

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 19 August 2016

Article Highlights

  • The Church has sent relief supplies to flood-weary Louisiana.
  • Church humanitarian response officials are monitoring California wildfires.

Church humanitarian response teams are working with local priesthood leaders and disaster relief organizations to assist people impacted by severe flooding in southern Louisiana and wildfires in southern California.

Cash and in-kind contributions—including food and cleaning supplies—will help ease the suffering of many whose lives were devastated by several days of historic rainfall in Louisiana, said Church humanitarian response director Bruce Muir on August 17.

“We've got [relief supply] trucks on the road,” he said.

Flooding triggered by the heavy rains is being blamed for 11 deaths. Meanwhile, about 30,000 people have been rescued and about 40,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

No members or missionaries were harmed—although 160 member-owned homes have suffered some degree of damage, said Brother Muir.

Almost eight feet of water has inundated the Denham Springs Louisiana Stake meetinghouse. Floodwaters have also damaged the Baton Rouge Louisiana Stake meetinghouse.

Brother Muir expects additional Church assistance to be dispatched to impacted regions as local priesthood and Relief Society leaders continue their assessment of the disaster. Members are also expected to mobilize cleanup crews in the coming days to help fellow members and their neighbors muck out their homes.

“It's going to take some time to get into some of the regions,” he added.

The floodwaters that roiled Louisiana came after a stretch of rainfall that meteorologists said was likely to be seen, in some areas, only once every 1,000 years, the New York Times reported.

Church disaster relief workers were also keeping a close eye August 17 on several southern California wildfires. Of key concern was the Blue Cut Fire, burning a few miles northwest of San Bernardino.

Counted among the 82,000 residents ordered to evacuate their homes were some 600 Latter-day Saint families.

Brother Muir said he anticipates the Church providing help in response to the wildfires once needs are identified.