Salt Lake City — Three people are reported dead and thousands are homeless after Cyclone Evan battered Samoa and American Samoa Thursday. Evan is one of the most powerful storms to hit the islands in 20 years.
Homes, businesses, and other infrastructure received heavy damage. Many communities are without water and power. In lower elevation areas, heavy flooding has been reported. Church buildings are being used to shelter thousands in affected communities.
The Apia Samoa Temple suffered minor damage in the storm on Thursday. All Church missionaries are safe and accounted for.
Local Church leaders are assessing needs and are assisting communities with basic relief supplies and as well as working with government and humanitarian organizations. More supplies are slated for delivery in the next few days as the Church continues to monitor the situation and identify how to best help the people of Samoa.
This important community initiative occurs prior to each Easter and Thanksgiving. Since its inception in 2008, the interfaith coalition has distributed nearly 45,000 meals. This year's Thanksgiving event involves 15 congregations of various faiths and a few other organizations. They join together to feed those who can't feed themselves and offer comfort in a time of need.
More than 200 Mormon missionaries serving in the Philippines Tacloban Mission were displaced by the 8 November 2013 Typhoon Haiyan. All of those missionaries, apart from some who have concluded their mission service, are now filling new assignments in one of 11 other missions in the islands.