Latter-day Saint Voices

Emergency Preparedness: Earthquakes and Demijohns

By Ricardo Sosa

Santa Lucia, Argentina

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man standing in rubble

Illustration by Allen Garns

When I was nine months old, my parents—a young couple, with three children and pregnant with another—were caught in a magnitude-7.5 earthquake in Argentina. As our house began to fall down, my father and mother grabbed us and ran. After checking to see that we were OK, they looked around at the devastation. My father quickly assessed the damages and losses, and realized that we would have no clean water from the public network. There wasn’t even enough water to wash off the dust from the crumbling houses!

When the shock wore off, my father grabbed his bicycle and went to check on his mother, who lived a few blocks away. When he arrived at his mother’s destroyed house, he walked around back where she was sitting with only a few scratches.

My grandmother asked my father to save some things from the debris, and while he was doing so, he found two demijohns (glass containers in which 5 to 15 gallons [20 to 60 L] of wine were sold) filled with fresh drinking water. They were undamaged.

A few months before the earthquake, President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) had instructed the Saints throughout the world to store food and water. My grandmother, a recent convert, had listened. From those two demijohns, we were able to supply our family’s needs for a couple of days until emergency assistance arrived.

This example of my grandmother’s obedience was a testimony to my father, who later converted to the gospel. Our family has since been sealed in the temple. I am so grateful for my grandmother’s faith and obedience to the call to be prepared.