Latter-Day Saints Impacted by Hurricane Matthew

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 14 October 2016

A farmer stands amidst damaged and toppled coconut palms in a village near Les Cayes, Haiti, Wednesday, October 12, 2016. Hurricane Matthew’s winds uprooted coconut trees, shattered banana plantations, and flattened vegetable fields.  Photo by Rebecca Blackwell.

Article Highlights

  • Tens of thousands of lives were affected by Hurricane Matthew.
  • The United Nations has called for $120 million to assist more than a million people.
  • More than 1,500 members from Orlando are serving their communities.

Latter-day Saints are counted among the tens of thousands whose lives have been severely impacted by Hurricane Matthew and its collateral damage.

The powerful storm will never be forgotten by residents of the Caribbean and the South Atlantic region of the United States. Hundreds of lives were lost in Haiti, and at least 35 people in the U.S. were killed in hurricane-related flooding or accidents.

Hurricane Matthew also displaced thousands and left many more without power or running water. Many in eastern North Carolina have had to be rescued from their homes because of inundated rivers, neighborhoods, and streets. Legions have sought refuge in shelters.

“I have been to those shelters, and it’s tough,” North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory told the Associated Press. “You have just been flooded out of your home and rescued by a helicopter and you are sitting in a high school gymnasium without your [extra] clothes.”

Meanwhile in Haiti, Hurricane Matthew is being blamed for possibly 900 or more deaths, according to news reports. Relief agencies are working together to deliver food, water, and medical supplies across the island nation, which is still struggling to recover from a massive earthquake in 2010.

The United Nations has called for $120 million in aid to assist more than a million people—including many in need of “life-saving assistance and protection,” according to USA Today. Some 175,000 are living in shelters, and health officials are working to fend off outbreaks of cholera.

Members and missionaries are working together to offer aid to fellow Latter-day Saints and their neighbors. Their efforts have gleaned the attention of local news agencies. The Daytona Beach News-Journal published an October 9 article about more than 1,500 members from the greater Orlando area who are donning yellow Helping Hands T-shirts and serving their communities.

“I know that we can rely on them, because when anything bad like this happens they all join together and they go out in the communities and try to help everyone that they can possibly help,” said member Carolyn Lowell, whose home was damaged by the hurricane.

Elder Stephen E. Thompson, an Area Seventy, told the newspaper that the members are eager to provide comfort. “They’re anxious to help. It’s just a blessing to serve.”