Mormons help storm-damaged N.Y. community

AP An New York Police Department van drives along a street soaked with rain and covered with debris in a … Continued

AP

An New York Police Department van drives along a street soaked with rain and covered with debris in a Rockaway neighborhood of the borough of Queens, N.Y., on Nov. 7, 2012.

Thousands of Mormons from around the United States cancelled their church services Sunday, opting instead to assist in the recovery efforts in communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Nearly two weeks after the storm slammed into parts of New York and New Jersey, thousands are still without heat and power.

“It’s great. They’re helping hundreds of homeowners here,” said one local resident on a video chronicling the effort dubbed Mormon Helping Hands. Volunteers donned yellow shirts so they can be readily identified by those needing help.

Since Sandy hit, members have cleared out homes and other tasks as communities try to recover from the powerful deadly storm.

Though the video focuses on Rockaway, N.Y., Mormons were also volunteering in Staten Island and Long Island as well as in New Jersey.

“I hope someday we can repay people like you guys did for us. It’s amazing. It’s just really overwhelming,” said one tearful woman.

It is inspiring, said Michael Otterson, head of public affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about the footage and the efforts of Mormons in the region. Neither the video nor the effort was coordinated by the national church, but the effort represents the way wards and stakes may choose to provide assistance.

‘Mormon Helping Hands’ effort is what we often call our volunteer response. We have found that those yellow vests become quickly recognized and people respond very well when they see an army of volunteers like that. They no longer feel alone, it lifts their spirits,” Otterson said about how local congregations operate. “Local congregations can call on broader Church resources for help – like chain saws, tarps, tents etc – but the effort is organized locally.”

The Mormons’ spontaneous reaction to Sandy has also attracted assistance from others including Muslims and Catholics as well as neighbors who wanted to join the coordinated effort, which shows “the Gospel in action,” said one Mormon about the demonstration of “that spirit of brotherhood.”

  • innocent_bystander

    I heard a huge group of Mormon responders went to help immediately after the storm and local officials turned them away because they were worried it would help Romney in the election. Pretty silly. In Haiti (earthquake), New Orleans (Katrina), and after the tsunami, the mormons were some of the very first in, and were definitely the most organized. When I worked in the UK and the tsunami hit, a co-worker was getting all of us to donate $$ through the Mormon church’s humanitarian aid fund. I asked if he was Mormon and he said no, but it was one of the best charities because the church operates it at their expense so 100% goes to the people in need. I’ve been an admirer of theirs (the charity, I mean) ever since. Say what you want about specific beliefs, those mormons are damn find people.

  • natsbacker

    This is what Mormons do.
    How many Muslims helped? A hell of a lot fewer, I bet,
    Truth can be painful, lefties..

  • DRJJJ

    Loving God and loving others-what a horrible world view huh?

  • Oui_Frere

    Duwanea,

    Natsbacker’s comment was uncalled for. However, I’m not sure the unfair generalization you made is much better.

  • sky3ler

    It would be even finer if they helped without advertising their church affiliation as many do.

  • Bonnie Smith

    sky3ler, the yellow vests are not to advertise the church. They are, as stated in the article, to identify the wearers as volunteers: “…those yellow vests become quickly recognized and people respond very well when they see an army of volunteers like that.” In addition, the Mormon Helping Hands are recognized by police and the National Guard as organized and knowledgeable as to what they are doing. Sometimes they will be allowed into devastated areas sooner than volunteers who are very willing but don’t know specifically what to do.

  • dcdinnell

    Everywhere I have been, I have seen the “Mormons” always willing to take the lead in giving help.

  • Halai

    natsbacker, I am Mormon and I am embarrassed and offended by what you said. This is not a game about who is helping more and numbers being the equivalent of greater goodliness or godliness. God wants us to help each other period, regardless of our religious persuasion. So everyone of those people regardless of the name they worship God under is exactly where He wants them and you have no right to be taking jabs at them. That goes for you too duwaynea. Nutbacker was out of line, but you weren’t improving the situation.

  • Halai

    BonnieSmith is right, so is sky3ler. Although I agree with wearing the vests for the purposes that Bonnie stated. I was not thrilled with the promotional video at the bottom of the page. It would be better if there was no video. What they are doing is meant for helping and nothing more. It’s great that someone wants to document the work, but that doesn’t need to be shared, otherwise it puts the wrong emphasis on what is being done and why it is being done.

  • bot1

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) believe that the first line of help should be within your extended family, then your religious or fraternal organization. Only then should the government (which is notoriously inefficient, slow and bound in red tape) should be called on for help.

  • innocent_bystander

    To Halai:

    I thought the purpose of the video was to increase awareness of the plight of those affected by the storm and to let those of us who want to volunteer but don’t know how to make a positive impact know that we can coordinate with a group of people that aren’t going to “card check” you to make sure you’re part of the right union, religion, charity, etc. and who help out without looking for some perverse reward.

    I believe the video was done by a private citizen–not the Mormon church–who was documenting different groups helping out. I’m not sure what wrong emphasis you’re referring to. It seemed to me the emphasis was on people helping out based on their beleif that the human race is and ought to act like “family”. The group clearly spans religious boundaries including Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, and even atheists. The election is over, folks. It’s time to stop being so cynical about the motivations of would-be “good Samaritans” and start acting like a community of Americans again. God bless the people of any faith that give their time, money, and energy to helping our “family” that has been impacted by this storm.

    Side note: the cops have been, shall we say, impatient with gawkers and disaster tourists coming in to snap photos and “ooh & ahhh” about the damage. The yellow vests are how they signal to authorities that they are there to help and have been instructed in how to avoid hurting themselve/others. You don’t have to be a mormon to participate in the mormon helping hands relief effort. The Salvation Army has been great, too and also accepts members of all faiths. LIPA on the other hand, sends power crews away if they aren’t part of the union, putting self before others and community. Sometimes unions suck.

  • Greentavern1

    Help to our fellow man is what Christ taught us to do…very simple, nothing more, nor reward expected. Love the Lord through actions of service and selflessness. The world needs alot of selfless humility right now. I hope the best for the people of northeast coast!

  • Greentavern1

    I suppose we should send the video police out and control countless cell phones and cameras during an event like this…get real. Does it really matter that someone made a PRIVATE video of this response effort? The bottom line is serving others and helping them in their “hour of need”. Wearing a vest that identifies you to others is a good thing it identifies you as one willing to help and not some one waiting around to loot the place or simply a tourist looking at the damage. These people are organized and know how to get the job done whatever it may be. By their fruit ye shall know them…

  • sfcanative

    The yellow vests are a promotional garment. They are used worldwide on Mormon “Helping Hands” projects while cleaning up parks, and other community service endeavors–not simply disaster relief.

    Mormonism is first and foremost a missionary church. I’ll believe these Mormon efforts are more about selfless humanitarian aid than the vainglory of a self-promoting religion when the vests no longer broadcast Mormonism in 80 point type.

  • sfcanative

    The yellow vests are a promotional garment. They are used worldwide on Mormon “Helping Hands” projects while cleaning up parks, and other community service endeavors–not simply disaster relief.

    Mormonism is first and foremost a missionary church. I’ll believe these Mormon efforts are more about selfless humanitarian aid than the vainglory of a self-promoting religion when the vests no longer broadcast Mormonism in 80 point type.

  • Mark Ackerman

    Wow… I can’t believe the critics on here… “Yeah they helped but they wore vests and a guy made a video”?!?! What did you guys do during the disaster? I thought the video was moving and restored my faith that their are good people out there. Then these comments made me lose that faith. Matt 7:3 “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

  • Mark Ackerman

    Mad Props to the Mormons… 100% right on… For those of you who have critical comments to make about what the Mormon Helping hands effort remember Matt 7:3 “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

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