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After Disaster, Here Comes Help

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    In the wake of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and fires, Latter-day Saints are among the first to help—and to continue helping.

    volunteers cleaning up debris

    Mormon Helping Hands volunteers clean away debris in Florida, USA, following a hurricane.

    Throughout the world, the Church is continually helping those in need. Here are some of the efforts made during the last six months.

    In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church’s Welfare Department, donated $1 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to help provide food to some of the most vulnerable people.

    In Tonga, where as many as 50 percent of homes were destroyed or damaged by Cyclone Gita, yellow-vested Helping Hands volunteers worked with members and neighbors to clean up and rebuild. During the cyclone, LDS chapels were opened as centers of refuge, and after the storm, the Church helped secure and pay for the use of refrigerated containers needed to preserve harvested crops. Local leaders then distributed the crops to anyone in need.

    In Samoa and American Samoa, when the same cyclone caused widespread flooding, Church leaders worked with government agencies to coordinate volunteer support in affected areas.

    In New Zealand, Helping Hands volunteers planted more than 4,000 trees during a community service day that involved members in Australia, New Zealand, and other islands of the South Pacific.

    In Puerto Rico, as the slow recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria grinds on, the Church, its members, and LDS Charities continue to help member and nonmember alike, assisting with medical transportation and with distribution of cleaning kits, food, water, and other assistance items. The Church has provided more than $4 million of in-kind and cash donations to nongovernmental organizations, providing relief to some 100,000 households—more than four times the local Church membership. The Church also donated $100,000 to a food bank.

    In northern and southern California, USA, when massive wildfires destroyed thousands of homes, Church buildings were used as temporary community centers, and leaders worked with local governments to assist in providing shelter and food. Member families also offered relief to neighbors by delivering meals and offering shelter.

    In Florida, USA, following Hurricane Irma, thousands of Mormon Helping Hands volunteers arrived from as far as five hours away, working from sunrise to evening in 90-degree heat with no electricity or running water. They cleared away fallen branches and other debris, removed water-damaged material from houses, and helped clean up a Catholic church flooded during the storm.