Latter-day Saint volunteers lend a hand after Hurricane Idalia

1,734 volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ have worked a combined 28,772 hours so far on relief efforts in Florida during the weekend, more are expected to come in the following weeks

Latter-day Saints from Florida, Alabama and several other states across the southeastern United States are volunteering in Florida to assist in relief efforts following Hurricane Idalia.

Within days of the storm, two trucks full of supplies were delivered to the area to distribute, and during the weekend, more than a thousand volunteers helped clean up, per a release from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

An expected 1,734 volunteers have worked a combined 28,772 hours so far, with more volunteers expected to come in the following weeks.

Hurricane Idalia hit Florida near its Big Bend region on Aug. 30, causing damage estimated between $12 billion and $20 billion, per Forbes.

The death toll of Hurricane Idalia is officially at zero, although two men died in car accidents during Idalia’s rain bands, per the Tampa Bay Times.

“The governor and I really hit that hard, evacuate, evacuate, evacuate,” Kevin Guthrie, head of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management, told the Times. “It seems that people have heeded that call and I’m grateful for that.”

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The Church of Jesus Christ’s relief efforts

Elder M. Andrew Galt, an Area Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is overseeing the Latter-day Saint volunteers as the cleanup efforts and disaster relief efforts are underway.

“The members here in the South know that hurricane response is part of what we do. All year long we are training the stakes to run command centers, we’re training them to prepare for storms.” — Elder M. Andrew Galt, an Area Seventy

“The members here in the South know that hurricane response is part of what we do,” said Elder Galt in a statement. “All year long we are training the stakes to run command centers, we’re training them to prepare for storms.”

Volunteers worked at converting intact church meetinghouses in Lake City, Chiefland and Madison to command centers, as was done in Hawaii just a few weeks ago.

Several meetinghouses across Florida and one in Georgia sustained damage in:

  • Cross City, Florida.
  • Chiefland, Florida.
  • Valdosta, Florida.
  • Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
  • Perry, Florida.
  • Tifton, Georgia.

The storm didn’t damage the Tampa, Florida, temple construction site, and all missionaries from the church in Florida and Georgia in the path of the storm are safe.

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“Lives are changed every time we assist with disaster relief efforts,” said Elder Galt in a statement. “We can help show love to all of God’s children. Through our actions, we testify of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” 

In one video released by the church, several volunteers commented on the hard labor of the relief efforts.

The church plans to assist with relief efforts for at least the next month.

“This is an early storm,” Elder Galt said. “We could very likely have another one. We’re planning on another one. We just don’t know where and when yet.”

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