“Church Members Affected by Flooding,” Ensign, Sept. 2006, 75
Extensive rainfall from New York to Virginia in the eastern United States in June caused widespread flooding and evacuations.
Flooding occurred in low-lying areas. Particularly hard hit were areas along the Susquehanna River. Thousands were evacuated from their homes temporarily, roads were closed, and buildings were damaged. Governors of flooded states declared a state of emergency in several counties. There were 16 confirmed deaths. All missionaries and Church members were reported safe.
“We felt a kinship to Noah,” said William Nixon, president of the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake, near Washington, D.C., as he described the approximate foot of rain that drenched the area.
He said four Latter-day Saint families in the Franconia Ward, Mount Vernon Virginia Stake, were displaced when 200 homes in their neighborhood were evacuated due to flooding. Although other members in the stake weren’t required to evacuate, many had anywhere from three inches to three feet of water in their basements.
Farther north in the Scranton Pennsylvania Stake, members were also affected by the flooding.
Keith Dunford, president of the stake, told of one family whose house succumbed to the flooding. Crews helped the family get their belongings out of the house before it slid into the water.
For the most part, Church members have maintained a positive attitude in the wake of the flooding. “We’re grateful that the levy along the Susquehanna held,” President Dunford said. Otherwise, “that would have been a disaster.”
Members in the Wilkes-Barre Ward evacuated and stayed overnight with other members but were able to return the next day.
In the Owego New York Stake, members evacuated their homes, and some were housed temporarily in a meetinghouse. One couple in Binghamton was rescued by a helicopter, and some in Owego were rescued by boat. Many stayed at shelters until the water receded.
Richard Miller, president of the Owego New York Stake, said that as the floods abated, members were able to go in, clean up, and help the people affected.
The Church’s Welfare Department stayed in contact with leaders across the flooded states, offering support and assessing needs in the different areas.
President Nixon said, “At times like this, you feel extremely blessed that you’re part of such a magnificent organization. … When you have people … calling from Salt Lake to check on members whom they don’t even know, and also willing to provide resources to the community at large, it’s a pretty remarkable organization.”