SAINT LOUIS, Missouri — The people of Fenton and Valley Park, Missouri, saw a different side of their local Mormon missionaries over the weekend. As floodwaters rose and homes and businesses were threatened, 50 young Latter-day Saints serving as missionaries for their church loosened their ties, rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
The missionaries worked with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other local residents and emergency officials in the effort. They moved furniture to higher ground, cleaned properties and created sandbag walls to keep floodwater out of homes, businesses, a school, a veterinary hospital and other buildings.
Towns in Missouri, Ohio and Arkansas have been hit with severe flooding due to late-season snowstorms and heavy rain, resulting in 17 deaths over the past week. Numerous houses and other buildings have been damaged, and many have been forced from their homes. Most of the flooding started to recede on Easter Sunday.
Mormon communication lines proved invaluable during the crisis as large numbers of volunteers were mobilized to one problem area after another.
“We’d be filling sandbags and making walls at one place and just when we thought we had done the job, we’d get another call saying we were needed somewhere else,” said local Mormon, Bob Hohman. “So we got the missionaries into trucks and took them over to the next place.”
Some missionaries heard about the floods on Wednesday, but it was not until Thursday at a meeting with all the missionaries in the area that they learned how serious the situation was. After the meeting the missionaries started helping where they were needed most.
“We heard it was supposed to be one of the worst floods in a long time,” said Elder Drew Pierce, a missionary from Alpine, Utah. “It was hard labor, but it was worth it.”
Another missionary, Elder Christopher Denton of Mesa, Arizona, said, “We were excited to go help because we thought it would be a great opportunity to serve the community.”
Hohman shrugs when asked why he, other local Mormons and the missionaries volunteered so many hours over three days. “It’s what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “It’s all about helping your neighbors.”
This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at lds.org.