BETA

Cyclone hits Pacific Islands

A cyclone that hit Samoa on Dec. 14, brought flooding from heavy rains and rising tides, according to a Church Welfare Report. Said to be the most powerful storm to hit the area in two decades, the storm caused three deaths, extensive damage to trees, buildings and farmland and the closure of the airport in Apia. Members and missionaries are safe. Many members' homes were damaged, in addition to minor damage to the Apia temple. Church buildings in the area are being used to house 650 members and others, the report said. Additionally, meetinghouses around the Western, Northern and Central Divisions are open to help members and others affected by the storm, according to a Mormon newsroom release.

Elder Michael F. Watson of the Seventy was scheduled to visit Samoa during the week of Dec. 21-24, to see how the Church can help with recovery efforts, according to a news release from the Church, and "to offer love and support."

"Our brothers and sisters in Samoa, of all faiths, are in our thoughts and prayers," Elder Watson said, as quoted in a Church news release. "We are already engaged, as a Church, assessing needs and providing support in Apia and in villages across the nation."

"My hope is that we can continue to do so, and to do whatever else we can as a Church and people, to work together with our friends in government and other churches to help those impacted by the cyclone to get back on their feet."

"Our mandate is the Lord's commandment to love and serve our neighbors. This is especially important during this Christmas season."

During his trip, Elder Watson visited Latter-day Saint leaders and community leaders to see how the Church could best supplement the assistance already being offered by the Samoan government.