After cyclone hits New Zealand, mom relieved to hear her missionary son is safe

Feb 16, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2023, 5:40 pm
In this image released by the New Zealand Defense Force on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, people stand o...
In this image released by the New Zealand Defense Force on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, people stand on a rooftop of a home waiting to be winched to safety by helicopter in the Esk Valley, near Napier, New Zealand. The New Zealand government declared a national state of emergency Tuesday after Cyclone Gabrielle battered the country's north in what officials described as the nation's most severe weather event in years. (New Zealand Defense Force via AP)
(New Zealand Defense Force via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah mom was in need to find out right away if her son is safe in New Zealand after a cyclone tore through the nation. Late Thursday afternoon, she got the news she had been hoping to hear. 

Amy Williams sent out a plea from her Ogden home for her son Logan who is serving a mission in New Zealand for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the island nation was slammed by Cyclone Gabrielle. Logan’s missionary companion is also out of contact.

Late Thursday, it was confirmed that Logan is alive and well.


Amy Williams joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic.

Cyclone brings flooding

Cyclone Gabrielle has caused widespread flooding and landslides in the country’s north. Authorities said Thursday that five people have been killed, 100 are missing and 10,500 more have been displaced, according to Aljazeera.

“We spoke to meteorologist Kevin Eubank earlier in the show, Debbie, and the amount of rain they’ve received in the last month — nearly 30 inches, nearly triple the normal amount — has just been incredible. And then the cyclone hits as well. It has just devastated this area,” Dave said.

“As a mom, it’s just been so nerve-racking for us, for our entire family because we just need to know. With so many services coming in and out, we just can’t imagine that he wouldn’t let us know that he’s OK, which is my primary concern,” Williams said. “All I need is two words: He’s alive.”

“My heart weeps for you, Amy. I cannot even begin to imagine what you and your husband have been enduring over the last several days,” Debbie said.

River rises nearly 10 feet

Via Zoom call Sunday night, she spoke to her son who is in the town of Wairoa on New Zealand’s North Island.

She said in the middle of the night the cyclone cut off all communications to the North Island, adding the Wairoa River overflowed its banks at 4 in the morning. The river surrounds the town, Williams said.

“The river had raised — he told my husband and I — three meters in four hours.”

She said her son had been told that if the weather becomes threatening, to go to the LDS chapel about 100 yards from his apartment.

“You can see the chapel right there from his front porch. So if the floodwaters came in to his area and it’s getting high, we know that he could get to the chapel and get on the roof of the chapel,” Williams said.

Deliver luck to family today

She said locating Logan has been frustrating because the area surrounding Wairoa has been cut off from the rest of the world, but she added she has witnessed the best of humanity.

“Many people have reached out to us by sharing our posts via Facebook. We’ve had a lot of people sharing his information across New Zealand,” Williams said.

She said today has always been her lucky number.

“The 16th, the date 16th is the day I was born. It was the day that I survived the [Cokeville Elementary School hostage crisis]. It’s the day that I was baptized. It was the day that I was married. It was the date that my husband survived a brain surgery that saved his life. So today is our day,” Williams said. “We feel very strongly that I’m going to get some news today.”


12 New Zealand missionaries out of contact after deadly cyclone


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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After cyclone hits New Zealand, mom relieved to hear her missionary son is safe