Most of us think that it won’t happen to us. But the fact is, in every area of the United States, there is a threat of a natural disaster.
The East and Southeastern coastal areas are vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding. The Midwest has frequent tornadoes, the West has devastating forest fires, and the West Coast is plagued with earthquakes. In coastal regions such as Hawaii, tsunamis are a threat.
At any time, as many victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy can now attest, heavily populated cities as well are rural areas and small towns can be isolated from every type of communication and service.
After a catastrophe, power outages are often devastating—no heat, no clean water, no internet or cell phone service. From gas pumps to ATM’s, everything shuts down.
While there is little that can immediately be done on a large scale, there are some steps that can be personally taken ahead of time to make life easier if the worst happens.
Before a power outage
Mike Elgin offered the following tried-and-true advice and suggested items that make life more comfortable when the power is out. (The following devices listed are not an endorsement of the products but rather an example of tested brands.)
Charge up in the car. Make sure your emergency kit has a power inverter, so you can charge your phone with the car’s cigarette lighter outlet. A car is an under-appreciated piece of survival gear that can give you shelter, warmth, a radio and electricity — the engine is also a generator that charges the car battery and can power your gadgets.
Get a hand-cranked charger. You should also have a way to charge your phone without home or car access. Solar chargers abound, but they’re not a good choice for emergencies. For starters, you want the option to charge indoors, at night or in bad weather. Solar chargers are finicky about having the panel facing direct sunlight. A better solution is a hand-cranked charger, which gives you juice anywhere at any time. Be sure to get one with a built-in radio and flashlight.
Walkie-Talkies. If wireless carriers are non-functional, a low-cost option is walkie-talkies. Some of the better models have very long ranges, making them super useful in an emergency.
They have two advantages in a disaster: They let multiple people in the area talk to each other, so you can check on nearby family and friends even if both parties have no cell service. Second, they let you connect to strangers in the area either looking for help or offering it.
Satellite devices. Another option many people don’t know about is a satellite device that lets you send text messages from your cell phone even if your phone can’t connect to the Internet or phone service.
Power pack. Another recommended device is a backup power pack used as an alternative to a gas generator. It is a giant battery that can provide power to the fridge, computer, lights or sump pump.
While these products may be somewhat costly, they can each be used during travel, camping or other recreational activities.
The Red Cross also offers the following suggestions:
To help preserve your food, keep the following supplies in your home:
❏ One or more coolers—Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers work well.
❏ Ice—Surround food with ice in a cooler or in the refrigerator to keep it colder for longer periods during a prolonged power outage.
❏ A digital quick-response thermometer—With these thermometers you can quickly check the internal temperature of food to ensure it is cold enough to use safely.
Emergency preparedness kit should be packed with these supplies in case of a prolonged or widespread power outage:
• Water—one gallon per person, per day (3- day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
• Food—non-perishable, easy-to prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
• Flashlight (NOTE: Do not use candles during a power outage due to the extreme risk of fire.)
• Extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
• Multi-purpose tool
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items
• Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
• Cell phone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Extra cash
❏ If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment, remember to include backup power in your evacuation plan.
❏ Keep a non-cordless telephone in your home. It is likely to work even when the power is out.
When the power is out
In an emergency, it’s important to conserve cell phone battery power. Close running apps and turn off location services. If it’s not necessary to receive calls, put the phone into airplane mode to preserve the battery life by two to three times.
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours.
Next, use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.
If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.
If it looks like your meat will defrost and spoil, cook it all, then keep it cool in an ice chest.
Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
Using generators safely
When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system. If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.
Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them. Report downed power lines to the appropriate officials in your area.
This article was written by Jan Mayer, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
No matter the season, jam is a tasty treat and an excellent addition to emergency food storage. Not only does it provide a bit of variety to what could be a bland diet, it also stores well and can provide an energy boost.
Jam recipes range from seasonal fruits to vegetables. We just tried out some new flavors because we (obviously) failed to store our green tomatoes properly. We read the instructions for winter storage, but they all ripened by November.
After looking at a lot of recipes, we decided to make tomato and chili pepper jam. We’d never made it before and thought it sounded good.
Funny thing, you can’t always count on jam to set the way you want. Luckily, there are ways to test it before you put it into the jars that should ensure a perfect set.
Jam reacts to a variety of factors such as the width of the pot you use, the ratio of sugar to water in the fruit, the amount of pectin in the fruit and the amount you add, and elements you have no control over like the elevation and even the weather conditions.
Tips for successful setting
- Before you begin cooking, put two small glass plates into the freezer. You will use them later to test whether or not the jam is set.
- For the sake of evaporation, it’s best to use a big, wide pot with enough depth to let the jam boil. This will assure quicker cook time and better consistency.
- Follow a tried-and-true recipe. When the amount of sugar is altered, the temperature of the jam may not be able to rise high enough. Some people use a candy thermometer to determine the temperature. Boiling point is 212 degrees at sea level but is reduced by 2 points per thousand feet of altitude. (At one mile -5280 feet-boiling point is 202 degrees). For the jam to set, it needs to boil higher than boiling point to set point which is 220 degrees at sea level and 212 degrees in Colorado (one mile above sea level).
- When the jam has cooked according to the recipe, remove it from the heat. Get a plate from the freezer and put a small spoonful in the center. Let it sit for about two minutes and then feel it with your finger. (Really—let it sit! Don’t be so eager that you don’t give it enough time.) If it seems to be firming and is close to the consistency you want for your jam, the batch is ready to be put in jars. Keep in mind that it can take up to 24 hours for the jam to be completely set, so don’t overcook. If it’s really runny, bring the jam to a full boil for one more minute and try the test again. Repeat this process until the jam is setting up.
- Some people like to use the sheet test—depending on the type of jam you’re doing. For this test, you stir the pot of jam with a spoon and then lift it so it will drip back into the pot. If it is ready, the jam will coat the spoon in a thin sheet and drip slowly. If it runs off the spoon like water, it’s not ready.
- Recipe ingredients are absolutes, but cooking time isn’t. Kitchen equipment and the cooking environment is different for everyone (size of pan, hotness of stove, etc.). Because of this, it is best to use the time listed on the recipe as a guideline and perform the plate test to make sure it’s the consistency you want.
If you follow these tips, you should have a beautiful batch of homemade jam to share with family and friends.
This article was written by Jan, amember of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Since 2004, more than one billion people worldwide-roughly one in six- have been affected by natural disasters—earthquakes, floods, fires, blizzards, tsunami’s and hurricanes to name a few. While it’s not pleasant to anticipate the need for emergency supplies, having them available and knowing how to deal with adverse conditions can make the difference between suffering and self-sufficiency.
Keep in mind that such disasters create not only physical, but emotional chaos. In most emergencies people experience emotional shock and sometimes hysteria. It is common for accidents to occur because of distraction. Attempting to remain calm will help others and will stabilize the situation. It’s not unusual for children to misbehave or have tantrums. The more secure you can make them feel, the sooner they’ll calm down.
Government and relief agency efforts begin immediately, but it’s hard to tell when they will get to your family. The better you are prepared, the more quickly you can offer aid instead of needing it. Many times the first 72 hours are devastating, but having a 72 hour kit for each person can ease immediate discomfort. It’s important to include a list of family members and phone numbers in each kit. A photograph of the family, even printed onto paper, helps rescuers put you together.
Another important step to take ahead of time is to establish a person/family that can take you in. Provide your immediate family with a common meeting place away from your location and make sure everyone has at least a phone number and address in case you become separated. Decide the best route and an alternative to get to that location. If you leave your home, post a note on your door saying where you are so others don’t waste time trying to locate you. One of the most common issues is power failure. Water treatment plants, heat, and all electrical operations—including gas pumping and banking services–are paralyzed. When the power fails in winter, Carolyn Nicholaysen offers the following suggestions in Meridian Magazine:
Stay indoors as much as possible. If you need to leave the house, open and close the door quickly, and keep it closed. Do not prop it open while you carry something in or out.
Designate a room or two to be used as the rooms you will gather in during the day and sleep in at night. Close off unneeded rooms. Take personal items from bedrooms and close the doors. Use only one restroom until power is restored.
Close off hallways by hanging blankets or other fabrics across them. To seal off a hallway use your shower curtain rod hanging it as close to the ceiling as possible.
Place rolled up towels and rags under and around doors and windows where weather stripping may not completely seal the area.
As soon as the sun goes down cover windows in the rooms in which the family is gathered. Mylar blankets, sheets, tarps, plastic sheeting and drapery or newspaper in layers work well. At night, wind chill will become a real factor in keeping your home warm. Do all you can to keep the wind outside by using weather strip and caulking.
Wear a hat, gloves, warm socks and shoes or insulated slippers. For cold hands, dry mittens that are tight at the wrist are better than gloves for keeping your hands warm.
Dress in loose fitting layers. Trapped air between layers helps to insulate thus keeping you warm. As it gets dark it will get colder. Layer your clothing to maintain as constant a body temperature as possible. If you don’t over dress early in the day you can avoid over-heating and then being chilled as the temperatures fall. Protect your internal organs by keeping your core chest area warm.
Tents can be set it up in the room you are using as the “warm” room. Play games in the tent during the day and sleep in it at night. Two man tents and play tents that you may have for your children also work for containing heat. You can place your tent on the bed to enjoy the comfort of the mattress and the warmth of the tent.
Do not drink alcohol or eat salty foods. They dehydrate the body and your water supply will be limited.
Remember to eat the food in the freezer first. If power will be out for several days, cook everything. In the case of a blizzard, the food can be stored in snow or ice outside. If temperatures are below freezing, small containers of water can be put outside to freeze. Place them in coolers to help preserve food. Think Hot: It is important to eat and drink hot foods.
Batteries: Have fresh extra batteries of various sizes for flashlights, radios, clocks, and tools. It is best to keep them easily accessible, but not stored in the devices until they are needed.
Battery Clock: During an emergency, time seems to crawl by. Move your clock to a common area where everyone can check the time. Every home should have at least one clock that is battery operated.
Body warmers: You can purchase body warmers that can last up to 20 hours from emergency supply stores or sporting goods stores. Use in footwear only if extreme cold or frostbite is a possibility.
Blankets and Sleeping Bags: Store several mylar blankets for emergency purposes. In addition, down comforters for each family member will help during frigid weather. It’s a good idea to zip sleeping bags together, where appropriate, to generate more heat.
Candles: 100 hour candles are available and should be stored, but candles should NEVER be used following a natural disaster. Gas leaks occur frequently after destructive disasters.
Canned foods: While you may have a plenty of food storage, it’s important to include canned items because they contain water or syrup which can help hydrate and can be eaten cold if necessary. Never eat dehydrated or freeze dried foods without reconstituting them as this will cause dehydration and can lead to serious health problems. Don’t forget a manual can opener!
Detergent: Liquid laundry and dish detergent and a large tub or bucket for washing. Good hygiene is possible in an emergency.
Emergency Kitchen: Plan for your cooking needs by deciding whether to use a barbeque grill, fire pit, camp stove, solar oven or your gas range. Be sure to store adequate supplies, such as small propane tanks for camp stoves. NEVER use a barbeque in the house. In an extreme emergency such as a blizzard, when there is no other option for heating food and water, a barbeque can be used in an open garage. However, the car must be removed and the door must be open the entire time. You cannot use a household pan on an open fire or grill but a griddle will act like a frying pan if necessary.
Flashlights: Have a flashlight for each person. Do not store the batteries in the flashlight and make certain to have high quality batteries that you rotate yearly to assure best use in an emergency. Flashlights that are shaken are not effective since they have a low beam and must be shaken every few minutes. It’s a good idea to store a flashlight next to every bed in the house in case of a nighttime emergency.
Firewood: If you have a fireplace, woods such as madrone, eucalyptus, almond, oak, etc. are the best for heating. Pines, firs, spruce, and redwoods are soft woods and will burn cooler and more quickly, providing fewer coals and less heat. Storing a little soft wood makes a great fire starter.
Glow Stick: They are safer than candles and can provide many hours of soft light. You simply snap and shake the stick and it glows for hours. Always purchase the 12 hour white or yellow varieties for the brightest light. These can be hung in restrooms and hallways as nightlights providing light all night long without running down batteries. Glow sticks can be hung around the neck of a child to quickly see them in a crowd or to check on them in the middle of the night.
Games: Make sure games, books, and puzzles are easily accessible, and use them to help pass the time. When the sun goes down place a flashlight, battery-powered lantern, or glow stick in the middle of the floor and huddle around it like a campfire. Drink hot cocoa and tell stories.
Matches or Lighters: Long wooden matches are the best to store as they are easier to use and burn longer.
Radio: A hand crank/solar powered radio with AM and FM bands requires no batteries, although it will probably operate on batteries, too. If you plan to use a battery-powered radio, store the batteries separately.
Water stored for flushing toilets, to prepare meals, for pets, and for cleaning. A gallon of water per person per day should be stored for drinking while larger quantities for toilet flushing and cleaning can be stored in larger containers. Store wet wipes and liquid hand sanitizer for cleaning hands and conserving water.
This article was written by Jan Mayer, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As I went through five days without power or running water following Hurricane Sandy, I kept notes on what needed to change in my emergency preparedness plan. Following are some of the things I learned:
Take a day and carry a small notepad in your pocket. Jot down everything you use power and water for in your everyday life. Even if you normally have water during power outages, it is possible for a city pipeline or pump to break or for the water supply to become contaminated. There are often small things we fail to think about. For instance, many people don’t own a manual can opener. I have a steam mop, so I don’t own a regular mop or bucket. Continually ask, “How would I do this if I didn’t have power or water?”
Designate an update method for family members.
We had to conserve cell phone battery life and our landline doesn’t work when the power is out, so we checked in on a social media site once a day. This let us check on my daughter’s family, also without power in another state, and inform all our friends, family, and congregation that we were okay quickly.
Outline a plan for the basic mechanics of days without power or water.
The first few days, we spent a lot of time running up and down stairs. We have a two-story home and a basement. The water supply is in the basement, much of it in very large containers. Our camp stove was set up outside our basement door. However, the cooking supplies were in the kitchen, a story away. Bathing supplies were up two flights of stairs. Eventually, I settled down to think and then organized a kitchenette and bathing area in the basement. This allowed us to stop hauling water as often and to stop running up or down stairs for things we’d forgotten.
Create a menu plan.
Everything took concentration and extra work and I don’t function well outside a routine. Although we had plenty of food, I found it hard to figure out what to fix, knowing we had to conserve water. This meant I didn’t want to use too many pans or preparation bowls when I cooked. I had few stovetop items in my regular menu plan, since I prefer oven cooking. While looking at my now useless menu on the refrigerator, I realized I needed a menu plan for power outages. I am beginning to locate and test menus that use one pan for cooking and a small number of shelf-stable ingredients. Canned vegetables can be heated right in the can if the label is removed and the lid opened. Then we can just add single-serving fruits to the meal. The food for this plan is going into a bin in the basement with the camp stove and other supplies and a copy of the meal plan will be placed inside. That way I won’t discover I’m out of something. Make sure you have disposable dishes—I had paper plates and cups, but no bowls for soups and stews.
If you have warning, rearrange your freezer space.
We lost everything in the freezer attached to our refrigerator and the top layer of foods in our chest freezer. However, the foods at the bottom stayed frozen–even the bags of ice we’d added. If you know you might lose power, as we did, put the things you can least afford to lose in a large freezer at the bottom. Fill the top and the freezer on your refrigerator with things you can use right away or don’t mind losing.
Designate a primary toilet if you don’t have running water.
It takes a lot of water to refill a toilet tank. If at all possible, designate one toilet as your primary toilet to avoid filling too many. Don’t flush after every use. Stores were largely out of water after the storm, although we had friends with water who could have provided us with more. However, you can’t depend on being able to get to a source of water, so you should be prepared in case you can’t.
Think about how you will use your flashlights and ebook reader lights.
We had lots of flashlights and batteries, but none that were wide-bottomed and could stand on end, lighting a room like a small lamp. My son had a small one that was magnetic and attached to our chandelier for dinner lighting. We’re adding both kinds to our list. I also realized metal flashlights are icy cold on cold days. I am working on a solution to that one. No one wants to carry around a cold flashlight in already cold hands.
I had a book light for my ebook reader, but it was too small for my hard-backed books. I’m adding a larger one to my collection. Some ebook readers have backlighting, but this reduces the battery life. Mine held out the entire five days because it is small with no back lighting. Reading allowed me to relax and also to study.
Plan to be able to work while your power is out.
You may have to return to work before your power and water is on again. Do you have enough work clothing? Is the clothing ironed? Is there anything else you will need that could be impacted (including gas, since New Jersey rationed gas and many stations had no power and therefore no ability to pump gas).
I have several computers, but I mistakenly used my main computer first and discovered too late it forces hibernation at nine percent. I had created an assignment document for the power outage, but it was only on that computer and after the first day, I had no access to it. If you must have a computer and you own several, start with your supplemental computers, not your main one. Know which one has the longest battery life and purchase an extra battery for it. (My netbook has very long battery life, since it uses little power.) Put everything that matters on a portable drive so you can move between machines. Print anything really critical before the storm.
Place some emergency storage on each floor.
If something goes wrong, you may have to stay on one floor. Put some supplies on each floor, including water, food, and flashlights. Make sure you have flashlights stored anyplace you might be when the power goes out. You don’t want to stumble down staircases in the dark to get to your light source. Make sure children know where the flashlights are in each room, since they get frightened in the dark. (See the links at the bottom of the article for advice on creating a 72-hour kit. These are ideal for placing on each floor.)
Own non-powered entertainment.
I learned that many people didn’t know how to entertain themselves. They didn’t own old-fashioned board games, didn’t know how to tell stories, and had no unpowered hobbies. Learning to entertain yourself without power is a valuable way to spend a little time and to relieve stress during the emergency.
Choose a fun project to lighten the stress.
I took advantage of the time, since I’d didn’t have access to my work projects, to focus on a project I never had time for. This was very relaxing and gave me both a sense of accomplishment and the pleasure of getting something fun out of the experience.
It’s natural to get stressed at the changes in routine or to just get tired of being cold. However, the moments I let myself get discouraged didn’t make the process any easier—it just made it worse. When I decided to pretend I was camping in a luxurious camper, the whole thing got easier. I tried to schedule in some fun and to concentrate on enjoying myself. I decided I wanted to be proud of how I’d handled things overall when I was finished with it.
Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are raised to be nice. Not only nice, but “honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men.” In times of disaster, Mormons are often first on the scene to offer “Helping Hands” and are encouraged by church leaders to be skilled at emergency preparedness.
That’s what Mitt Romney has been up against from the beginning of his presidential campaign. He’s been accused of being “uncomfortable with his own story.”
But nothing could be further from the truth.
He simply doesn’t believe in blowing his own horn. He’s a humble man who lives as Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:1). “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them.”
But Romney’s deeply ingrained sense of service doesn’t comfort those who want him to become president. In her blog, A Well-behaved Mormon Woman, Kathryn Skaggs states the following:
There seems to be an element of frustration, among Mitt Romney supporters, that the American public still do not know who he is — really know. Meaning: not his political agenda but more his heart — what makes him tick. And if people really knew Romney’s heart they would trust him — turning more hearts toward choosing him as the next U.S. President.
After all, isn’t there something deeply compelling about knowing someone’s heart? When we know what motivates an individual, and it is good, we are better able to trust their overall intentions. According to those closest to Mitt Romney, he is a man who is always serving others in very personal and nonpublic ways and needs to be more open about this very important facet of his life. (See interview with CBS News Charlie Rose and Gale King who spoke with Jeff Benedict, author of The Mormon Way of Doing Business).
In her blog, Skaggs said she hoped that Romney would show those along the campaign trail who he really is by doing what he does best—helping others.
To her surprise, she discovered that Romney has done just that.
Because of Hurricane Sandy, he offered his campaign bus for hurricane relief efforts throughout the east coast. Townhall.com reported:
In a true example of leadership, Mitt Romney has sent his campaign bus to aid in hurricane relief as Hurricane Sandy prepares to slam into the northeast as early as tonight. Donations were being accepted today at the Romney campaign Virginia headquarters. Ann Romney was scheduled to appear in New Hampshire tomorrow, but has canceled plans so resources can be spent helping people affected by the storm.
Romney also sent out the following email:
Tonight, Ann and I are keeping the people in Hurricane Sandy’s path in our thoughts and prayers.
I hope that if you can, you’ll reach out to your neighbors who may need help getting ready for the storm — especially your elderly neighbors. And if you can give of your resources or time, please consider supporting your local Red Cross organization — visit www.redcross.org to get involved.
For safety’s sake, as you and your family prepare for the storm, please be sure to bring any yard signs inside. In high winds they can be dangerous, and cause damage to homes and property.
I’m never prouder of America than when I see how we pull together in a crisis. There’s nothing that we can’t handle when we stand together.
Stay safe and God Bless,
In addition to donating the bus, Romney bought $5,000 worth of food and canceled all campaign activities until people were out of harm’s way.
According to the Washington Post, the Romney campaign suspended fund-raising emails to states that have been affected by the storm, including the District of Columbia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland and New York. The Obama campaign is similarly suspending fundraising e-mails in states affected by the storm.
In North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the Romney camp has been collecting supplies at campaign offices to deliver local storm relief, and in Virginia, staffers have been collecting storm relief supplies on the Romney campaign bus.
On Romney’s Twitter and Facebook feeds and Web site, the campaign has posted an appeal to supporters to make donations to the Red Cross.
Still, critics have been quick to point a finger, accusing Romney of using his Hurricane Sandy relief efforts as a political ploy.
What they don’t understand is that Mitt Romney is not motivated by power or even a bid for the presidency. He is a man who has proven time and time again that he tries to follow the example of the Savior, Jesus Christ and heeds the words of ancient prophets such as King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon who led his people by example (Mosiah 2:16-17):
…Because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.
And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
At the end of the day, Mitt Romney will continue to be the man he has always been. He will help and serve others—whether or not he is the President of the United States.
This article was written by Jan Mayer, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It’s not a surprise when Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are among the first to help when there’s a disaster. Following the counsel in Mormon scripture, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:40) members—young and old—understand the need for emergency supplies and have enough knowledge to handle the unexpected.
The day before Hurricane Sandy hit, a young missionary near Boston, Shiri Stevens, confidently wrote to her parents before being evacuated to Providence, RI:
Sister Ford and I will be well prepared. The sisters in Providence don’t have much of anything….thankfully both Sister Ford and I have knowledge about emergency preparedness.
As soon as it was reported that the hurricane was going to hit, leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ in the Eastern United States quickly jumped into action to assure the safety of all members and to provide an outreach to others in need.
Manassas, Va., stake leaders just completed their annual emergency preparedness exercise on Oct. 26, during which local church leaders went through a variety of possible emergency scenarios, including the possibility of a hurricane like Sandy.
“I don’t really believe in coincidences,” said Bishop Tony Padilla of the Manassas 2nd Ward. “I think we’re as prepared as we can be, with procedures and systems and backup systems in place and ready to go. We look at this as a time to put our preparation into action. We’re not afraid of this.”
In a Harlem Young Single Adult Ward, leaders provided a list to help members develop an emergency plan for everyone in the household, and instructions on putting together a basic disaster supply kit, storing water and non-perishable food, monitoring information from public officials, and being aware of the location of evacuation centers. They created an online document where members could update their status and asked the group to look after people in their neighborhoods and also keep in touch with the church members they were assigned to visit as home and visiting teachers. (Members of the Church visit each other monthly by assignment to provide spiritual and temporal support. These programs also create an immediate network that allows rapid contact in case of an emergency.)
The article also explained procedures for missionaries:
The same kind of preparation applies to full-time missionaries, who are representing the LDS Church in the Eastern United States. President Kevin E. Calderwood of the New York New York Mission said his mission has “an emergency plan in place and we have been planning and preparing for this specific hurricane for many days.”
The plan even has a name: “Safe and Serve – be safe first, and then go and serve.”
“As of Sunday night we have moved all 27 sister missionaries into the mission home with our family,” Calderwood said. “We have food and water and plenty of beds for everyone. We also have access to a generator if needed.
In Boston and the surrounding area, similar preparations were put into action. President Daniel Packard sent the following message to the parents of the 19-23 year-old missionary force he and his wife oversee:
…We are ready for Hurricane Sandy here in the Massachusetts Boston Mission. We’ve asked all of our missionaries to be prepared for several days without power. They received their November support money early so they could buy extra food, water, candles, batteries, etc. All of the missionaries in coastal areas have been moved inland.
After the storm subsided, President Packard once again contacted parents:
We’ve been in touch with the missionaries who have lost power and they are all stocked with several days’ worth of food and water. We don’t think they’ll need it, but they’re prepared.
We are excited for this hurricane to pass so we can get out and serve. We’ve been invited to work in some Connecticut storm shelters and will do that as soon as it’s safe for our missionaries to move there.
…There are many flooded areas and unlimited service opportunities. On our street here at the mission home, we have three large trees down. The Elders staying with us were quick to go to our neighbors and volunteer to help with the trees as soon as the storm passes. I think we’ll be doing a lot of that over the coming days and weeks!
Please know that we are all safe and happy, but certainly appreciate your prayers.
For the missionaries, the desire to help became a driving force. Because their own needs were met and they were well prepared, the missionaries were able to get to work as soon as it was safe. The Dessert News documented activities in New York and New Jersey:
NEW YORK CITY — Some 500 full-time missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took to the flooded streets and wind-blown neighborhoods still reeling from the effects of superstorm Sandy Wednesday to assess the status of LDS Church members in the area and to offer a helping hand to anyone in need.
“It’s been a long day of hard, dirty work,” said President Kevin E. Calderwood of the church’s New York New York South Mission late Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve been in basements, on roofs, in yards cutting down trees, hauling things out of people’s houses, pulling out carpet and doing whatever people need us to do to help.”
A total of about 500 LDS missionaries from Calderwood’s mission, as well as from the New York New York North and New Jersey Morristown missions, have been working non-stop in the most heavily impacted areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut since the storm’s high winds subsided.
“Under the direction of our local church leaders we’ve been spreading out to the hardest-hit areas,” Calderwood said, indicating that in his mission that included the Far Rockaway and Long Beach areas. “The devastation is overwhelming. Some of these people have lost everything. We’re doing everything we can to help.”
“There is so much work to be done here – this isn’t something that’s going to be finished in a week or two,” Calderwood said. “And we’ll stay at it as long as we are needed. We are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he tells us to love our neighbors.
“And right now, our neighbors need help.”
This article was written by Jan Mayer, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.