Latter-day Saints help with flood mitigation efforts

Latter-day Saints help with flood mitigation efforts

With historic flooding at Rainy Lake, Latter-day Saints went to the area to help with sandbag placement and other mitigation efforts.

On Friday afternoon, Rainy Lake surpassed the 1950 record as the waters continue to rise. In Ranier, all hands are on deck for sandbagging as residents work to save the homes of many.

Jarred Huffaker took the month of May off of his lawn care business to help.

“Pretty much the second day of the flooding, I had a couple of the homeowners get a hold of me. I have tractors and trailers and everything,” said Huffaker. “Some of the homeowners were worried that this flooding was going to eventually take their homes out, so I asked if I could start helping haul some bags in.”

Huffaker quickly realized that more volunteers are needed. He contacted his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and asked them what they could do to help. The Church sent Latter-Day Saints from missionaries serving throughout Winnipeg (east and west), rural areas of Manitoba (Brandon, Neepawa, Steinbach, Winkler), Ontario (Kenora, Dryden, Bergland, Ft. Frances), and Minnesota (International Falls and Warroad).

“We have been housing 12 to 24 missionaries in our house at any given time,” said Kristi Huffaker. “So most days I’ve been focusing my attention there on making sure that they have plenty to eat breakfast and dinner, clean towels, clean clothes.”

There are three rotating shifts of 20 missionaries in each group, with each shift lasting four days. The Huffakers and the missionaries who are staying with them have been sandbagging 12-14 hours a day for the past three weeks.

“We’re out here just to kind of try and give people hope and faith and that what we’re doing matters on that front,” said Jarred. “I’ve had so many people come, just give me hugs and just break down and cry.”

“It’s hard to see them going through this, so it’s nice to be able to give them a little bit of hope,” said Missionary Elder Seidel. “I just was completely shocked. I was told that things were going going pretty south, but this is beyond what I thought was happening.”