The following story was published on Church Newsroom Pacific on May 11, 2020. It documents Latter-day Saint Charities' response to the tropical cyclone that hit the Pacific Islands last month.
Severe Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold struck Vanuatu on 6 April, 2020. Strong to gale force winds, heavy rain, and large waves affected central and northern parts of the island nation, and eventually encompassed Malampa, Penama, Sanma and Torba provinces.
Extensive plant damage—including many families’ crops—and flooding occurred across northern Vanuatu.
Prior to Harold’s landfall, water shortages and power outages began affecting Santo Island.
In some parts of Santo, not a single building or structure was free from damage. Many homes were severely damaged or destroyed. In response, Latter-day Saint Charities has coordinated a project to repair or rebuild 173 homes. The project has been developed with local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Luganville and Malekula districts of Vanuatu.
In addition, tents, tarps, hygiene kits, generators and chain saws have been donated by the Church to communities in some of the hardest hit areas.
In Fiji, TC Harold damaged homes, uprooted trees, devastated farmland, and caused widespread flooding. One resident said it was as if a river had been diverted through his house as floodwaters rose above the furniture.
Humanitarian missionaries on the islands have returned home due to COVID-19, and flights are restricted, causing greater obstacles to providing assistance.
Latter-day Saint Charities is partnering with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA) to address several critical projects for implementation.
In Vanuatu, 4,000 households will receive ongoing food resources and food security. The distribution of garden seeds, tools for home gardens, along with training, will help people get back on their feet. Assistance with psychosocial and protection needs are also being provided. In addition, 200 households will receive immediate water rehabilitation support.
In Solomon Islands, 420 households will also get better access to clean water. The procurement of supplies and installation of water pumps will be supported by Latter-day Saint Charities.
Two hundred households in Fiji will receive assistance with water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies. This will help minimize the risk of spreading disease.
TC Harold left a devastating trail of destruction and ruin. These projects will help communities as they recover and rebuild.
In October 2019, Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said: “Regardless of where we call home, members of the Church feel passionately about the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Thus, our greatest joy comes as we help our brothers and sisters, no matter where we live in this wonderful world. Giving help to others—making a conscientious effort to care about others as much as or more than we care about ourselves—is our joy. Especially, I might add, when it is not convenient and when it takes us out of our comfort zone. Living that second great commandment is the key to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ.”
Watch President Nelson’s full address, titled, “The second great commandment,” here.