Simple & Easy – Emergency Preparedness
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Courageous efforts made to assist victims

Hurricane Stan devastated many areas in southern Mexico in early October. It devoured the homes and belongings of more than 300000 people and killed at least 74.
Photo courtesy Church Public AffairsMuddy flood waters carve destructive path through Chiapas Mexico following torrential rains spawned by Hurricane Stan.
Photo courtesy Church Public AffairsFlood victims in Quetzaltenango Guatemala work their way across innundated streets.
Photo courtesy Church Public AffairsChurch members trudge across eroded roadway to deliver provisions to hurricane victims isolated in regions of Chiapas. Hundreds of LDS Mexicans have been quick to offer service to those in need earning the thanks of government leaders.
However the fury of the wind rain and flooded rivers could not break down the saints faith and resilience.
Hurricane Stan hit Mexican territory on Oct. 4 causing destruction in the states of Chiapas Veracruz Oaxaca Puebla and Guerrero the former two being the most affected.
Although several LDS families and individuals were suffering — and many lost almost everything — hundreds of them served others and gave a hand of hope to members and those not members of the Church alike. Stake presidents bishops priesthood quorums missionaries Relief Society sisters and even the youth organized to provide physical and spiritual assistance to neighbors and friends.
Some of the Church members who volunteered to help respond to the hurricane disaster risked their own lives. For instance a group of 20 young people led by their bishop and other officials crossed a dangerous and flooded river to get to Huixtla and Ciudad Hidalgo in Chiapas in order to carry supplies and water for those affected there. After leaving Tapachula at 5 a.m. it took them eight hours to arrive in Huixtla.
Clifford L. Whetten president of the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission was among the Church members who challenged the rivers and the broken bridges. He and his second counselor Jose Antonio Llera decided to visit the Church branch in Mapastepec Chiapas a little town that was isolated by the floods.
Many people told them they were not going to make it. The water had destroyed the roads and the government had not yet finished temporary bridges. On Oct. 9 President Whetten and Brother Llera loaded two vehicles with 80 bags of food and supplies that had been prepared in Tonaly.
As they traveled down the road they saw that several sections of many bridges had disappeared. At the same time they saw the government graders and tractors trying to fill in the missing sections with mounds of gravel. As they kept going they needed to detour several times since the roads were covered with mudslides. As we reached the last bridge just a few miles from Mapastepec the trucks and other equipment had just filled in the last section of the bridge which had been washed away. We could not believe it. We had actually made it all the way to Mapastepec! We were one of the first to cross over the makeshift bridge said President Whetten.
When the mission president and his companions entered the meetinghouse in Mapastepec they found the Church members and the two missionaries singing hymns praying and comforting one another. The look in their eyes as they saw us come in the chapel door is something that I shall never forget. It was a look of gratitude and of great faith. Their prayers had been answered wrote President Whetten.
Hundreds of miles away members and leadership of the Mexico City Zarahemla Stake — a unit for students who attend the LDS high school Centro Escolar Benemerito de las Americas — organized to pack and ship 180 tons of supplies and 2837 gallons of water provided by the Church. Three trailers loaded with grains canned goods powdered milk flour cooking oil soap bottles of chlorine water and other products entered the school on Saturday Oct. 7.
About 1300 students teachers and ecclesiastical leaders unloaded the trailers and started placing the supplies in boxes. They committed three days to the effort.
The Church hired six trailers to bring the supplies to the people in Chiapas and Veracruz the two most devastated areas. Two trailers with 2003 boxes and 935 gallons of water headed to Veracruz whereas the other four with 4031 boxes and 1902 gallons of water were sent to Chiapas.
Governmental institutions and the Church partnered in the effort to distribute the supplies among the victims. Luis Bustos director of religious affairs in the state of Veracruz thanked the Church on behalf of his government. We should recognize its solidarity worldwide. There was great collaboration from the stake presidents. We consider the Churchs participation to be splendid said Mr. Bustos.
Church buildings in Veracruz became shelters for members and non-members whose homes had been partially or completely destroyed. Two of the 17 meetinghouses in the area were flooded while others suffered minor damage.
Similarly in Tapachula Chiapas several meetinghouses were hit by flood waters and debris. Before the hurricane the distance between the Xochimilco Ward meetinghouse and the Coatsed to live. The rivers also washed a great amount of sand over farmland and surrounding areas.
In this devastated city the two stake presidents and the local Church members and leaders did their best to provide food and shelter to all those who had lost everything. In addition they spent over a week digging in the mud to rescue some of their belongings and removing the debris on broken roads and from demolished structures.
Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy president of the Mexico South Area and Steven K. Peterson the area director of temporal affairs traveled to Tapachula on Oct. 11. They found the two stake presidents and other Church leaders there at the edge of exhaustion.
The two stake presidents melted in my arms as I gave them an abrazo (hug) said Elder Christensen. Although they and their families had suffered like so many others they had worked tirelessly to serve the community and to provide assistance where needed.
Elder Christensen continued Entire neighborhoods disappeared in Tapachula. Many homes are now filled with earth and mud and people do not have clean water phone power sewage service or gas. Many of them are getting their supply of water from a well that is located at one of the Churchs meetinghouses.
In the middle of the tragedy many found relief in the arms of others. Elder Torres said that a 4-year-old boy was found trapped inside some tree trunks. Miraculously someone rescued him and took him to one of the meetinghouses. He was frightened as he entered the Churchs building. Folks inside the meetinghouse asked him for his mother. The child answered the flood devoured her. However his fear and distrust vanished as soon he recognized an LDS girl who used to attend school with him.
As he saw a familiar face he felt relieved Elder Torres said.
Elder Christensen said there are still many important things that Church members could do to help the hurricane victims and other people in need. We all should continue to pray and donate generously to the fast offering fund in our local wards and branches.
Elder Christensen spoke of his admiration for the Mexican people who were resilient and selfless amidst difficult times. I saw how in a critical situation the real fundamental principle of the gospel that of selfless service came to the surface in the lives of members and those not of our faith alike.

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