Earthquakes, a tsunami and massive flooding have combined to make 2011 the costliest year for natural disasters on record according to a recently released Welfare Services report of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).
The report indicates the first half of the year had economic losses totaling $265 billion, well above the previous record of $220 billion from 2005 (the year of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf region of the United States). Japan’s earthquake and tsunami damage alone has been estimated at $235 billion.
Lynn Samsel, director of Welfare Services Emergency Response, said every year throughout the world, families, communities and nations are afflicted with the hardship and tragedy of disasters—both natural as well as man-made. “While we know that God watches over His children, we are also aware that He asks His children to serve each other.”
Throughout 2011 the Church responded to 111 disasters in 50 countries, providing a total of $22 million in emergency aid and organizing thousands of volunteers through the Mormon Helping Hands program to assist those affected. In addition to natural disasters, east Africa experienced one of the worst droughts and famines in more than 60 years.
Welfare Services lists the five top Church responses.
Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
- More than 250 tons of supplies were distributed during the first few months following the disaster, including food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene supplies, clothing and fuel.
- 22,000 Church-sponsored volunteers have provided more than 175,000 hours of service to date.
Eastern Africa Famine
- The Church committed $2.25 million in support of relief efforts and partnered with Islamic Relief, International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development and other organizations to provide food, clean water and medical supplies.
United States Tornadoes
- The Church provided relief in eight states, with more than 5,000 volunteers helping with cleanup.
- Church members in Thailand assembled food kits, sanitation kits, blankets, clothes and other relief items for those affected by the floods.
Hurricane Irene — United States
- The Church provided 120 tons of relief supplies and 50,000 hours of service from more than 7,000 Church volunteers and missionaries.
The following table shows the breakdown of the 2011 responses by disaster type:
Disasters by Country
The following table lists the countries and regions assisted, along with the types of disasters experienced