February 29 through March 3, 2012, saw storms of destruction sweep through the American South and Midwest. More than 100 tornadoes touched down across 12 different U.S. states (Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia) during these four days. The aftermath saw dozens of casualties, thousands left homeless, and millions of dollars worth of destruction.
The response from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (frequently misnamed “Mormons”) was immediate. On Sunday, March 4, Latter-day Saints in Indiana were using chain saws and elbow grease to do their best to clean up some of the debris.
The storm system contained what experts believe to be the largest outbreak of tornadoes recorded in the month of March, but tornadoes didn’t have a monopoly on causing damage. Flooding was also present in several states.
Latter-day Saint volunteers responded to damage in all areas by offering donations and organizing volunteer work groups to help clean up the mess. As always, local Church leaders worked closely with local civil authorities and welfare officials at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, to assess needs and efficiently coordinate relief efforts. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an enormous worldwide humanitarian program and tries to stay constantly stocked with supplies so they can help immediately when a natural disaster strikes. In this case, they were able to provide hygiene kits, generators, cleaning kits, and other basic supplies to affected communities. Aid from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is available to all those who stand in need, not just to other members of the Church.
The response for the New Albany Indiana Stake, which area was hit especially hard, is typical of any stake called to action. Latter-day Saints in this area spent the weekend of March 3–4 helping neighbors and other members. When leaders extended the call to come help, 500 members responded. Because the clean-up extended to Sunday, the members held brief Sunday services before getting to work.
Through true Christian service, many of the Latter-day Saints made friendships with those they served.