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Chile floods cause damage to 26 LDS meetinghouses

In some of the worst flooding in recent history in this coastal South American nation, 26 meetinghouses were damaged.

More than four inches of rain fell in one day in June in areas where there is normally less than that much in a year. Rivers overran their banks and residents were forced to flee from the waters that flowed through homes and businesses. Seven people died in the flooding. No Church members were injured or killed.More than 63,000 people were driven from their homes in central Chile following the heavy rains. Fifteen homes of members were among the houses destroyed, with another 22 homes of members seriously damaged.

Five LDS meetinghouses were used as emergency shelters.

After the disaster, the spirit of service was shown as local members and full-time missionaries worked to help others. In Copiapo (an inland desert city about 400 miles north of Santiago), members of the Chiguayante Chile Stake provided food, funds and clothing to those without homes. Youth of the Santiago Institute of Religion also helped in providing food and prefabricated structures to homeless members and non-members.

Rodolfo Acevedo of Church public affairs in Chile, described the events:

"As though to announce the start of summer, the rain began with no seeming end in Copiapo. The rain continued through much of Chile. On June 11, it rained heavily for 15 hours without stopping, placing entire regions under water. In the more humble sections where people live in small houses in bad conditions, they left all they had to the mud and rocks that filled their homes.

"But the Lord did not permit these people to suffer for a long time, as His Church with its blessings and strength came to provide the help they needed, with great love.

"On June 19, Elder F. Melvin Hammmond of the Seventy and president of the Chile Area, and Jorge Duran, director of temporal affairs, visited Copiapo and Copiapo East and met with 350 bishops, branch presidents, members and non-members. After calling upon the Lord to end the rains, the Church leaders provided significant assistance with medical supplies, materials to repair homes, and in some cases, prefabricated housing."

Members also joined the volunteer effort to help "but without a doubt, the greatest gift that the Church gave was love, the pure armor of Christ that translated into a sincere effort on the part of each brother who participated silently in this great opportunity for service."

A newspaper in Copiapo described the volunteer effort:

"The people have received a showing of help from many sectors, including the help of missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, who worked hand-in-hand with the people."