President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints traveled to Houston, Texas, Sunday, September 3, 2017, to meet with members and tour areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency; Bishop Gérald Caussé of the Presiding Bishopric; and Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy attended a Church service with Latter-day Saints from four congregations who were affected by the flooding or assisting in the cleanup efforts.
He continued, “The Church is really not so much the organization. The Church is you, every individual member. That makes the difference. And your work, your service, your love, your kindness is a reflection of what the Church is all about.”
“Let’s go forward,” said President Uchtdorf. “Go out there. Help them, serve them, whoever they are, and show them what this gospel is really all about. It’s a message of hope. It’s a message of kindness. It’s a message of reaching out to our fellowmen.”
The same is happening with many of the more than 56,000 members of more than 200 congregations in the region, who are also organizing into Mormon Helping Hands work parties to help their communities in the cleanup and rebuild over the weeks and months ahead.
“My heart is melting just to see your smiles,” Bishop Caussé told the congregation. “We look forward to the future with confidence although the circumstances are difficult, and we know that we’ll be blessed as we worship, as we pray … and as we go forward and help our neighbor who is in need.”
The Church has donated significant funds and sent 18 truckloads of water and supplies to Houston and other communities in Texas. More assistance will be provided as needed.
President Uchtdorf, Bishop Caussé, Elder Cornish and other leaders visited the Houston Texas Temple to assess the damage caused by floodwaters from a nearby creek. They also visited a neighborhood hard hit by the flooding, where they talked with volunteers helping with cleanup efforts.
They also visited an American Red Cross facility in Houston to offer support before returning to Salt Lake City. The Church has a long-standing partnership with the Red Cross to relieve suffering in disasters, including victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Nearly 3,000 Latter-day Saints are among the more than 185,000 people whose homes were destroyed or heavily damaged by the severe flooding. Many Church meetinghouses have also been flooded or damaged by the hurricane. Six buildings have been flooded, and 20 others received minor damage.
Though much broader in its path of destruction, the impact of Hurricane Harvey is being compared to Hurricane Katrina. Following that disaster, a dozen years ago, the Church sent 356 truckloads of water, food, cleaning and hygiene kits, and other supplies, equipment and fuel and provided more than 45,000 days of volunteer labor. More than $11 million was donated, and the Church’s response lasted more than a year.
It’s anticipated that the Church’s efforts will equal or surpass that of Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, the Church will continue to work with its many partnerships of other faiths and relief organizations and government officials to aid the people left devastated by the effects of Hurricane Harvey.