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Flood Relief Efforts in Georgia Relieve Suffering

While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often provides aid from its headquarters to those in need, many needs are also met locally. The following is a report about the Church's response locally to recent flooding in Georgia. It's written by Karla Brandau, a volunteer public affairs representative for the Church in the southeast United States:

Meteorologists reported that 20 inches of rain fell in 35 hours in the north Georgia mountains, which started the 2009 Georgia floods that began on September 18. Some metro-Atlanta areas received about 22 inches of rain, with 12 of those inches falling in a 12-hour period from Sunday night, September 20, to Monday morning, September 21, causing otherwise lazy creeks to turn into torrents of water, flooding everything in their paths.
Particularly hard hit was Austell, Georgia. Many Austell homes were flooded up to the second level, and other buildings like the Clarkdale Elementary School were completely submerged. Many flood victims lost everything, and most homeowners had no flood insurance. One flood victim said he tried to purchase flood insurance but was turned down because he was above the flood zone. The water line in his home nearly reached the ceiling.
On Saturday, September 26, 1,200 Mormon volunteers were raised from eight Atlanta stakes (similar to a diocese) to help the flood victims on Sunday, September 27. These volunteers gave up sitting in the pews in church for working in crews in service. They tore up wet and mud-stained carpets, took down soaked drywall and insulation and threw damaged furniture and appliances into dumpsters. They repeated this service on Saturday, October 3, gutting a total of 251 homes in two days.
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Elder David H. Ingram, Area Seventy (a regional Church leader), said:
"The response by the members of the Church has been tremendous in flood-ravaged west Atlanta. There has been much goodwill generated by these humanitarian efforts. I am sure most Church volunteers have been influenced by President Monson's admonition for us to go out and rescue our brothers and sisters in need."

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A by-product of the efforts by Latter-day Saint volunteers was connecting with other faith-based organizations who were also giving Christian service to the flood victims. These relationships were facilitated by Ross Penrod, Area Seventy executive secretary and a member of the Georgia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD). VOAD is an organization where volunteer organizations can collaborate and pool their resources for the common good of communities when disaster hits.

Penrod stated that the VOAD collaboration conference calls following the floods provided the Church with the opportunity to work with the Georgia Baptist Convention, Jehovah's Witnesses, Methodists, Operation Blessing and the Red Cross. The Church provided:
 


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  • Warehouse space of 1,500 flood buckets for the Methodist Church.
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  • 4 pallets of water to the Red Cross for use during the disaster.
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  • Translators for the Red Cross.
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  • 2 pallets of cleaning kits and 1 pallet of water for the Jehovah's Witnesses Group.
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  • Food supplies for feeding workers for the Jehovah's Witnesses Group.
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  • 4 pallets of water and 2 pallets (100 cases) of bleach for the Georgia Baptist Convention.
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The Church also provided assistance in the State Operations Center by answering phones and logging information. Penrod stated it was a privilege to work side by side with fellow faith-based organizations and state and government officials in the cleanup.

One government official, Sam Peng, a Cobb County Emergency Management Center (EMC) volunteer working on Sunday, September 27, said, "We have a lot of great organizations in here helping with efforts," he said, "but never have we seen a group this large managed and executed so effectively to provide such a scope of work in such a short amount of time."
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George Parker, president of the Jonesboro Stake, said, "Last night, thinking about this effort, I was reminded of the scripture 'as you have done it unto the least of these...ye have done it unto me.' It's a humbling experience, cleaning up for people you don't know and who don't even know you're here, knowing we are serving our Savior."

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About: This blog is managed and written by staff of the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to provide journalists, bloggers, and the public with additional context and information regarding public issues involving the Church. For official news releases and statements from the Church, please also visit the MormonNewsroom.org home page.

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