Two planes carrying over 47,000 pounds of supplies took to the air from Salt Lake City on Wednesday bound for the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Containing hand soap, rolls of plastic sheeting, hammers, nails and hygiene kits, the pallets of supplies are meant to provide relief as Haitians work to recover from the effects of Hurricane Ike — the fourth major storm to lash into Haiti in the last month. The supplies were provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As Hurricane Ike continues its path across the Gulf of Mexico, representatives of the Church are planning ways to help in the United States as well. Church representatives have been asked by emergency management officials for the state of Texas to provide support. In fact, many relief supplies delivered by the Church are being stored in facilities managed by Texas authorities and in bishops’ storehouses. Church representatives continue to work with emergency management personnel to identify where help may be needed.
Emergency supplies are positioned in six different locations in the Gulf region and are ready for distribution to several thousand people. These supplies include truckloads of cleaning kits, hygiene kits, blankets, water and food. Small quantities of additional supplies such as sleeping bags, work gloves, chain saws, wheelbarrows, first aid kits, cots, tents and tarps are also on hand if needed. Additional truckloads of hygiene kits are currently being created in Salt Lake City today, many of which are being delivered to the Gulf region.
Following the storm, and after officials have authorized return to the area, the Church will offer support to local elected officials. “We have remarkably close relationships with those leaders. They are familiar with what the Church can do with our resources, manpower and commodities,” said Peter Evans of the Church’s Welfare Services Department.
Earlier this week and into today, volunteers are working at the Church’s Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City assembling hygiene kits to replenish supplies being used in support of current disasters. At the bishops’ storehouse in Dallas, volunteers are busy today assembling 2,400 food boxes and will continue their efforts tomorrow. Each of the food boxes can feed a family of four for 10 days.
Ike is by no means the first hurricane the Church has responded to. For instance, the Church provided 200 semi-truck loads of aid and 42,000 man-days of labor in response to Hurricane Katrina. In recent days the Church has offered support to Hurricane Gustav response efforts as well. The Church humanitarian aid system is experienced and is well-equipped to respond to a variety of disasters, including hurricanes.