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Church supplies reach Gulf states

Church relief supplies reached the southern United States before Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast Sept. 1 impacting 2.1 million people in Louisiana Mississippi and Texas.
AP photo/The Daily Town Talk Melinda MartinezEmergency crews rescue residents in Alexandria La.
Trucks loaded with food hygiene kits and cleaning kits left Salt Lake City for the Gulf Coast Aug. 29. Evacuees and others received the supplies hours after the disaster.
Hurricane Gustav which wreaked havoc in Haiti and the Dominican Republic before reaching the Gulf Coast set in action a historic evacuation of nearly 2 million people — the largest evacuation in U.S. history. The storm damaged homes and caused widespread power outages. Days after the disaster 1.4 million households were still without power.
All Church members and missionaries are safe following the storm which is attributed to causing eight deaths in the United States.
More than 700 Latter-day Saint evacuees found refuge in 12 Church buildings according to Church Welfare Services.
In response to the disaster the Church sent 100000 hygiene kits or seven semi-trailer loads to the state of Texas. In addition 2500 family food boxes and cleaning kits were sent to the Gulf Coast.
Church members responded well in reaching out and caring for evacuees said New Orleans Louisiana Stake President Scott N. Conlin.
There has been a great sense of support he said. We know the members are safe and the buildings are safe.
Church members from New Orleans and surrounding areas have mixed feelings he said. You know there are feelings of gratitude for the hospitality and warmth of the saints that are hosting us he said. Then there are the feelings of worry. When we get back will things be OK? Well see how much work will need to be done.
He said Church leaders anticipate holding services in New Orleans on Sunday Sept. 7.
Then members will look for ways to help each other and the community recover from the damage. Everyone has a sense of relief that the devastation wasnt as bad as was initially feared he said.
He was also stake president three years ago when the death toll exceeded 1600 after Hurricane Katrina.
We were better prepared and more ready to evacuate this time he said. Katrina as large as it was made people realize the importance of being prepared and responding early.
AP photo/Amy SancettaFew vehicles are on the highways as storm clouds pass over New Orleans two days after Hurricane Gustav hit the area. Above right emergency crews rescue residents in Alexandria La.
The evacuation of members of the stake went well he said. Absolutely no one was left behind that didnt want to stay.
He said the wind damage in the area is greater than it was three years ago. There is a lot of damage downed power lines and downed trees. But he added there is also the knowledge that there is not the extensive flooding and loss of life that was associated with Katrina.
Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission President William G. Woods said all the missionaries in New Orleans were evacuated days before Gustav hit. Missionaries in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas left their apartments and rode out the storm at the homes of Church members or at the mission home he said.
Baton Rouge was hit harder by Gustav than Katrina he said. The power could be off as many as four to 12 days.
Although missionaries will resume their regular schedules this week they will take advantage of all available service opportunities said President Woods.
Directors at Church Welfare Services said as needs are identified thousands of Church members will as in the past put on yellow helping hands T-shirts and offer assistance.
Many have already found ways to help.
For example Michael Robinson Birmingham Alabama Regional Welfare Specialist said there were 9000 more evacuees in the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center than anticipated.
After learning of needs there the Church sent bottled water hygiene kits and baby supplies to the center. You just ache for those people having to leave their homes having no clue what will be there when they get back he said. The Church was there (to help them) on the spot.
And as everyone watches other potential hurricanes the Church is ready.
The same elements are in place. The storehouses are stocked. The supplies are there said a Church Humanitarian Services employee.
AP photo/The Times-Picayune Kathy AndersonParts of Highway 1 near Grand Isle La. remain under water after Gustav swept through the region.
E-mail: sarah@desnews.com

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