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Typhoon Damages Yigo Guam Temple

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For more than a week, cleanup has been underway at the Yigo Guam Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after Typhoon Mawar hit the island of Guam on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.

Missionaries and local Latter-day Saints have been working with the Salvation Army and the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities in Guam to distribute water and food to those in need.

Flooding saturated the carpets and some furniture inside the Yigo temple and at a nearby meetinghouse. The typhoon also damaged trees and other landscaping on the temple grounds. The temple did not sustain any structural damage, but it will be closed for repairs because of typhoon damage through July 24.

“Everyone was all set to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the temple when the storm moved in,” said Sister Cyndi Burtenshaw, who is serving as a Church communication missionary in the Micronesia Guam Asia North Area with her husband.

The Yigo chapel and classrooms on property adjacent to the temple were damaged by the flooding. The Yigo and Barrigada chapels have no power or water and remain closed. Members and missionaries came to help remove the water from the carpets and clean the floors and windows of the Yigo chapel. The youth worked with adults in vacuuming and removing wet carpets. The carpets that could be removed were taken out of the classrooms and laid over chairs to dry.

“The Talisay [Ward] and Talofofo [Branch] church building held a short sacrament meeting last Sunday, but they do not have power or water either,” said Sister Burtenshaw.

There were no fatalities immediately reported from the typhoon, which was listed as a Category 4 typhoon when it made landfall. It was the strongest typhoon to hit the U.S. territory since 2002.

The heavy downpour of rain also flooded other buildings and homes in Guam. Most of the island lost electrical power and water as the storm increased in intensity. The lights on the temple were run by a generator after the power went out, shining like a beacon on a hill during the storm.

The typhoon packed winds of around 140 mph as it passed over Guam, according to media reports. One senior missionary said, “It sounds like a 747 landed on our roof.”

At dawn on May 25, people began to assess the damage. The once-thick jungle now exposed many hidden structures. Large and small trees were uprooted and broken. Leaves and flowers were stripped away, including the bark on some of the trees. Although there was some damage to homes, there was no loss of life or serious injuries reported. Missionaries on the island jumped in to assist those in need.

A couple of families in the Barrigada Ward had the roofs of their homes ripped away. Members and missionaries spent several days cleaning up debris and helping to put a cover on the damaged homes. They cleared downed trees and branches from an apartment complex courtyard, giving the children there a place to play again.

Guam has more than 2,500 Latter-day Saints in five congregations. The Yigo Guam Temple was dedicated on May 22, 2022.

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