More than 30 days after Hurricane Michael hit Marianna, Florida, the recovery efforts are still in the clean-up phase. Many neighborhoods have fallen trees. Hundreds of businesses remain unopened. The legacy of Hurricane Michael's devastating impact in the lives of the people in Marianna continues to unfold.
There were 280 members of the 7-congregation Sugar Hill Georgia Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who traveled more than 600 miles round trip on Nov. 9–11 to help thousands yet in need of assistance.
The scheduled youth conference, Amazing g(Race), was refocused so that the youth could participate in the disaster clean-up call. Volunteers were assigned to do tree work, debris cleanup, and limited roof/tarp work repair. This was the third time the Sugar Hill Stake was called to help.
Impact of Disaster Relief Efforts
In reflecting on her experience, Jordan Nugent (17) said, "As I worked, I learned the true joy that comes by serving those in need."
Josh Simpson (16) also quipped, "Service is better than any anti-depressant!"
At the youth conference "fireside" held on Nov. 10th, Marianna's Chief of Police, Hayes Baggett, was one of the guest speakers. He shared, "Oct 10th was a terrible day here. I have four police officers that lost their homes, but they still come to work." He continued, "I would like to invite you guys back when you get old like me. One day, maybe our trees will be back and our community will be pretty again. I appreciate what you have done and what you continue to do."
Mark Salmon, President of the Dothan Alabama Stake, also told the youth the next day during a church worship service, "The members of the Church who came, specifically the youth that has come this weekend, have been a light to the community and those in need."
Estimated Cost Savings
For the three out-of-town service projects performed by members of the Sugar Hill Stake, there were a total of 599 volunteers (248 were youth volunteers) who helped. Total manhours were 14,208—with an estimated total in cost savings of $414,747.60. The youth contribution amounted to 5,952 manhours—with an estimated total in cost savings of $171,715.20.
There are other stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ who have been called many times to help with disaster clean-ups. Members who follow Jesus Christ's mantra to "love God by serving others" show a significant cost-savings impact in local disaster relief efforts.