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East Coast LDS leaders encourage members to prepare for superstorm

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 6:47 p.m. MDT

Water floods Bayville Avenue up to the stores, from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Bayville, N.Y. Nassau County Police have blocked the entrance to the street. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Kathy Kmonicek, AP

Hurricane Sandy is due to hit the East Coast by early evening, Monday, Oct. 29, and last through the night with flooding and high winds anticipated. Ten states in the area have declared a state of emergency and homes are being evacuated in high-risk areas in anticipation of the storm that could affect 60 million people, reports Reuters. The stock markets closed Monday for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, and will remain closed at least through Tuesday and longer depending on the storms impact. Schools and businesses along the East Coast are also closed. Projections for the storms impact remain bleak.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following

statement:

"The Church continues to monitor the situation and is prepared to respond as needed. Prior to the storm, local leaders were in contact with Church members to encourage necessary preparations. Mission presidents are taking precautions to protect the safety and well-being of missionaries," said Scott Trotter, a Church spokesman.

"There will undoubtedly be some deaths that are caused by the intensity of this storm, by the floods, by the tidal surge, by the waves. The more responsibly citizens act, the fewer people will die," Maryland Governor Martin OMalley told reporters, according to Reuters.

Some in affected areas are not heeding these warnings, according to interviews with local Church leaders.

Brooklyn

Bishop Blake Anderson of Bensonhurst Ward in Brooklyn said his ward council reached out to the ward members and neighbors in areas of the ward such as Coney Island, and encouraging them to evacuate. Although Coney Island is within zone A, an area ordered to evacuate, some members have not left their homes.

"We are a bit apprehensive on that. Ill be honest," Bishop Anderson said.

The ward has a phone number set up so people can text and receive help they need and leadership is staying in contact with those in high risk areas to make sure they are OK. Because the membership in the area is so spread out, they are mostly having to help from a distance.

"Given the area, its not suitable to drive around the area and knock on their doors," he said.

Jeff V. Nelson, president of the Brooklyn New York Stake, said the work in his stake is in "able hands" at the ward level. Two areas in his stake are in high-impact areas. He said bishops and Relief Society presidents are

reaching out to people in their wards.

New Jersey

Church leaders are also guarding against the effects of the storm and have put their home and visiting teachers to work.

In the Brunswick New Jersey Stake, President Gregory J. Stokes said the areas members are fairly self-sufficient at this point. He said communications with other leaders in the area are going well and he

recently took part in a conference call with stake presidents along the East Coast to ensure everything is going well.

"We are as prepared as he can be," he said.

They have also been called upon to help the Red Cross with some of their shelters.

Elder Robert B. Smith, an Area Seventy who works with southern New Jersey, Delaware and the southeast portion of Pennsylvania, said although these areas will be among the hardest hit areas, they have a well-established emergency plan in place, including approximately 70 amateur radio operators in the area. Visiting and home teachers are contacting members and reporting back to bishops, who report to stake presidents, who, in turn, report to Elder Smith.

"We feel very confident about it. Hopefully nothing serious happens that we cant help with."

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