While serving in Louisiana, the over 6,000 Mormon Helping Hands volunteers from many states have felt support from many in the community.
Operation BBQ Relief provided over 2200 meals to Mormon volunteers in Hammond. Another group, wanting to remain anonymous, provided jambalaya to over 1800 Mormon volunteers while camping at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales. Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux and Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa were in attendance at the dinner and shared words of encouragement and gratitude. Covington Food Bank, Convoy of Hope, United Way, and the Red Cross helped distribute truckloads of supplies donated from LDS Charities.
Many elected officials have addressed the volunteers and expressed gratitude and support, including Tangipahoa Parish president Robby Miller, Ascension Parish President Kenny Mattassa, Hammond Mayor Pete Panepinto, Baker Mayor Darnell "DA-1" Waites, Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux, Baton Rouge Mayor Melvin 'Kip' Holden, and Gov. John Bel Edwards.
In just two weeks, over 6,000 Mormon Helping Hands volunteers from 6 states (La., Texas, Fla., Tenn., Ark., Ala.) donned yellow shirts and provided relief to the people and families whose homes were damaged by recent flooding. Volunteers are self-sustained bringing tools, food, and camping gear.
Putting in over 110,000 hours of service, so far they have assisted 1400 households, several churches, and even the Monterrey Fire Station in removing damaged furniture, sheetrock, and flooring. Plans are set for another 5,000 volunteers to serve Labor Day weekend.
Baton Rouge homeowner, Alvin Price, had four to five feet of water in his home.
“I found out today my family is extended more than I thought it was,” Price said.
Sam Wyatt of Hattiesburg, Miss. was part of the over 4,000 volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in Louisiana Aug. 27 to Aug. 28.
“It is really tragic what has happened to all the people here. What we are doing is trying to lift an immensely heavy load and they really need it,” Wyatt said.
“I am a child of God, and He has sent me here. I have no doubt God sent you here. You are an example of the partnership we will need going forward. The faith-based community response has been excellent from all denominations,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards as he attended the LDS worship service held on the mornin of Sunday, Aug. 28 in Baton Rouge.
Baton Rouge Mayor-President, Melvin “Kip” Holden, also attended services.
“I’m very grateful you left your homes to come to the great city of Baton Rouge,” Holden said. “Look at these numbers! There was no hesitation for you reaching out. You are our family. In a family, the strong help the weak. This shows the hearts you have. It shows the minds you have. It shows the desires you have. We are the recipients of your good will, and we will never forget you!”