News Story

Mormons Rally to Help Fight Floods in Saskatchewan

On 29 April 2013, full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in the city of Saskatoon drove out to help town residents and sandbag crews fight rising floodwaters in the town of Radisson, Saskatchewan.

A long winter of record snowfalls in many regions has left areas of the province at extreme flood risk. With over six feet (180 cm) of snow in most locations, the spring melt has been challenging, and as temperatures have risen, so has the risk of flooding from run-off.

Several Saskatchewan communities have declared a state of emergency and are trying to protect residences, businesses and civic improvements, such as water and sewage plants, and electrical sub-stations. Members of the Church have gathered to assist in smaller communities where outside help is needed.

Don Tanner, Radisson’s mayor and a member of the Church, said that the missionaries have made a significant contribution to the flood-control effort. “The missionaries worked in wet running shoes or boots in snow, rain and high winds for 12 hours. What is more, the missionaries’ cheerful attitude and willingness [to help] lifted the mood and helped everyone work just a little bit better.”

Two female missionaries said they enjoyed the experience. Sister Kami Shoell said, “I was a bit worried that I couldn’t handle moving all those heavy sandbags, and we are very stiff two days later, but it was worth it. … [Providing this] service shows how much we love the Lord.”

Sister Rachelle Hull added, “I was surprised how much fun this was — it didn’t seem like work to do this kind of service. I felt so much closer to the Saviour by doing service as He would have done. We weren’t talking about following Christ; we were showing how to follow Him.”

Mormon volunteers are willing to continue the work, but they have been placed on standby status. Bryan Dilling, an emergency preparedness coordinator for the Church, continues to work with affected community leaders to ensure Mormon volunteers are immediately on site when needed. “We are committed to help wherever and whenever the need arises. We are spared the natural disasters that some other areas have, but our own threats do occur. As part of the broader community, we are grateful to contribute our resources to helping our brothers and sisters. That is simply who we are.”

Local Church leader Douglas W. Robertson says that while the pressing need is to ensure the damage from water is minimized, the Church is also committed to help with cleanup once floodwaters have receded. “It is often easy to mobilize people when they see the water rising, but [people] are sometimes less aware of the need to help return homes, yards and businesses to their pre-flood condition. … We are committed to help with this effort.”

Mayor Tanner says that he and the mayor of the nearby community of Borden have already begun planning how to get the next job done. “Knowing that we have the support of the Church leadership and all our members and missionaries helps us remember that we are all important parts of a larger community.”

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