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For week ended August 15, 1999 Posted 29 Aug 1999

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Mormons help Salt Lake City respond quickly after tornado

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mormons help Salt Lake City respond quickly after tornado
Dallas TX Morning News (AP) 13Aug99 C9
By Hannah Wolfson: Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Most cities at least know what to do even if they are not prepared for the disasters common to their areas. Much of California knows what to do in an earthquake and midwestern cities like Tulsa know about tornados. But in spite of its relative lack of knowledge about tornados, Salt Lake City handled Wednesday's disaster remarkably well.

Within thirty minutes after the third recorded tornado in its history, volunteers were directing traffic and were in the affected areas with hard hats and chain saws getting to work with the cleanup. By the next morning, most streets were clear of debris. Officials attributed the response that few other cities are able to do to the preparedness influence of the LDS


The storm, which touched down at 12:55 pm on Wednesday, August 11th, killed one person and injured dozens more. It caused $150 million in damage, including damage to 121 homes, 34 of which were left uninhabitable.Also damaged in the storm were the Delta Center, home to the NBA's Utah Jazz and the LDS Church's Assembly Hall, currently under construction, which had the boom of a construction crane fall on its roof.. However, damage to the Assembly Hall is believed to be minor, and officials are checking carefully for structural damage. Temple Square suffered a number of trees uprooted and two broken plate-glass windows in its North Visitor's Center.

LDS wards in the area report that the response to their cleanup needs was quick and strong. "We had dozens of people turn out just to help clean up," said First Capitol Hill Ward bishop Ronald Coleman, whose ward was the first residential area hit by the storm. Home teachers in the ward checked on their neighbors and quickly reported in to the bishop. "They all did their checking and before everyone went to bed last night, the windows were covered and

everybody was trying to help their neighbors,"said Coleman. Ward members handed out tarps and fresh water, participated in street-clearing crews and stood ready to carry ill residents out of an apartment complex with broken elevators if the need arose.

The city also asked for assistance from the Church, which provided tarps, ropes and tents from the central warehouse it maintains for disasters. Even the Red Cross requested assistance from LDS Church Family Services, which worked and counseled with residents in the wake of the disaster.

Mayor Deedee Corradini, who is not a member of the LDS Church, is greatful for the Church's preparedness. "There's no question that the church is known for helping out in emergency situations," said Corradini. "None of us ever dreamed there would be a tornado in Salt Lake City. We have major thunderstorms here, and I think that's what we thought it was."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information