helpinghandsThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Welfare Services released a report this week stating that 2011 was the costliest year on record for natural disasters, much of it stemming from the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

According to the report, relief assistance for the first half of 2011 totaled $265 billion, well above the previous record of $220 billion from 2005 (the year of Hurricane Katrina). In 2011 the Church responded to 111 disasters in 50 countries, providing a total of $22 million in emergency aid, and organizing thousands of volunteers.  

Many of the volunteers and assistance was provided through the Mormon Helping Hands is a program. Assistance through this program began in 1998 in South America, and has spread around the world. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have donated millions of hours of service, partnering with other non-profit organizations, in their own communities and internationally.

The Church assisted in the following relief events:

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

  • More than 250 tons of supplies were distributed during the first few months following the disaster, including food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene supplies, clothing and fuel.
  • 22,000 Church-sponsored volunteers have provided more than 175,000 hours of service to date.
  • Relief efforts in Japan cost close to $235 billion.

Eastern Africa Famine

  • The Church committed $2.25 million in support of relief efforts for one of the worst droughts and famines in more than 60 years. The Church partnered with Islamic Relief, International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development and other organizations to provide food, clean water and medical supplies.

United States Tornadoes

  • The Church provided relief in eight states, with more than 5,000 volunteers helping with cleanup. The Church continues to provide relief to those currently suffering from the recent storms in the Southeast United States.

Thailand Flooding

  • Church members in Thailand assembled food kits, sanitation kits, blankets, clothes and other relief items for those affected by the floods.

Hurricane Irene – United States

  • The Church provided 120 tons of relief supplies and 50,000 hours of service from more than 7,000 Church volunteers and missionaries.

Source: LDS Newsroom