From: Joseph and Anita Hilton. We have just read some of the messages published on the LDS Gems about the effect of Hurricane Georges on the Dominican Republic and thought you might be able to use a transcription of a message we got from our son who is a missionary in Santo Domingo and faxed us a description of his experiences with the hurricane, as follows:

"I hope by now you have received the call from President McCoy that will tell you all is well with me. When the hurricane was coming, President had us buy food to prepare. They said the hurricane would take its course on the north side of the island, and we on the south would only experience high winds. But the next morning the AP's called and told us that the hurricane had taken an unexpected course right for our mission (the Santo Domingo East mission). That hurricane hit so hard! I have never seen such hard winds! That thing ripped whole trees out of the ground and snapped trees the size of me in half. It lasted 8 hours and the next day when we came out everything was destroyed. The houses were ok, but all the trees broken, roofs ripped off, lights broken, walls fallen over and stuff everywhere. it was the most powerful thing I have ever seen in my life. This whole past week has been day in and day out of service. I have never cut up so many trees with a machete! All day long using a big knife and swinging and hacking all kinds of stuff. My hands are all swollen and sore but getting better because we finally bought some gloves. We just run around all day cutting and moving trees and cleaning up stuff. The "light" (electricity) is gone because just about every power pole was blown over. They say we will be about a month or more without light. There is nothing cold here. No ice or cold water and the food is starting to run out. Things are going to get worse pretty quick here because the food won't last and all the plants and crops were ripped out by the hurricane. We shall see! They say the death count is about 300, but they really don't have any idea yet. Total destruction! Missionary work should be resuming quickly. I got your birthday package. Everything was perfect. I'm doing good at 20 years old. One year on my mission and already I have been through a hurricane! I love you guys. Take care, Nicholas."

If you can use this account, please feel free to do so. We thought it was very interesting to have a first-hand account of the cleanup and aftermath, especially the use of machetes rather than chain saws or whatever. And despite the hurricane, the mail still got through and our son got his birthday package undamaged! Remarkable!

Best regards,
Joseph and Anita Hilton
Boise, ID