News Story

Mormon Helping Hands Relieve Alberta Flood Victims

Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are providing assistance with relief efforts following a natural disaster in southern Alberta. Heavy rainfall struck 20 June 2013, sending a raging torrent of water into several communities, creating the worst flooding in a century.   

The Bow River usually runs at about 150 cubic metres a second; however, last week the river peaked between 2200 and 2700 cubic metres per second, triggering sudden flash floods causing significant damage. The estimate of damage and lost revenue is about $4 billion, and reports indicate that at least four people have died, including a member of the Church from Okotoks, Alberta.

Many Mormons have been affected, particularly in the town of High River, where the entire community was evacuated and many people unable to return to their flooded homes. The Church meetinghouse in High River has suffered water damage. Many families have lost all their possessions.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is providing food, water, clothing, hygiene items and other relief supplies, which are generally purchased locally and distributed to those in the affected region. Latter-day Saints in areas not affected by the flood and missionaries from the Canada Calgary Mission are mobilizing to assist with relief efforts as Church leaders continue to assess needs in the community.

Hundreds of Mormon Helping Hands volunteers adorned in yellow vests are already doing whatever they can to assist in the wake of this disaster. One overwhelmed Calgary resident said that members of the Church descended on the community of Bowness “like a yellow army,” tearing up wet and mud-stained carpet, ripping down soaked drywall and insulation and throwing damaged furniture and appliances into dumpsters.

“Many people just showed up and just started helping the first person they could find in need of a hand,” said volunteer David MacDonald. “We are not only moving stuff. We are moving people.”

The Church is providing:

  • A command centre at the local Mormon meetinghouse in Okotoks to organize and facilitate relief efforts, including food and clothing for victims in the disaster area.
  • Cleaning kits and essential items used in recovery, including masks, goggles and rubber gloves.
  • Generators, breaker bars, pumps, brooms, shovels and crow bars used to clear and clean out homes.
  • Volunteer work crews to fulfill work orders to help flooded residents prepare to rebuild. Disaster specialists estimate that it takes ten workers between 8 to 10 hours to completely clear one basement.

Members of the Church have donated truckloads of baked and canned goods, clothing, diapers, blankets and water to various communities and shelters in the affected areas. In Calgary, over 550 hygiene kits and more than 700 sandwiches and cookies were made and delivered to Eaden Valley and the Stoney people of Morley.

Local Church leaders are coordinating relief efforts with government officials and other organizations that also provide service to flood victims. These relationships help to collaborate and pool resources for the common good of communities when disasters hit.

Marcel Dubois, emergency coordinator for the Stoney Nation, extended his appreciation to Church members for their immediate generosity and consideration. “When first struck by this disaster, we were overwhelmed. … Through your kindness, this major disruption and impact on many people's lives will be decreased. ”

The following B-roll video file is available for news media use: 


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