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Latter-day Saints in Southeast U.S. Enduring Heavy Rains and Winds from Hurricane Zeta

Relief Society and priesthood leaders continue to assess damages and formulate appropriate responses

Hurricane Zeta
A man walks past a fallen tree in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 29, 2020. Over half a million people were without power in the U.S. state of Louisiana after Category 2 Hurricane Zeta made landfall Wednesday afternoon along the Gulf Coast, authorities said Thursday. Photo by Lan Wei/Xinhua via Getty Images.null

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By Jason Swensen, Church News

Latter-day Saints and their neighbors living across the Southeast United States were enduring Friday the heavy rains and winds associated with Hurricane Zeta — the latest in a relentless series of storms to hit the region in recent months.

All missionaries are safe and accounted for, although many serving along coastlines had to be relocated prior to Zeta’s arrival in eastern Louisiana on Wednesday, October 28.

There are also no reports of members being harmed as local Relief Society and priesthood leaders continued to assess damages and formulate appropriate responses on Friday, according to Church spokesman Doug Andersen.

Zeta now adds its name to a growing and unwelcome roster of destructive hurricanes — Laura, Sally, Delta — to have battered America’s Southeast and the Gulf region of Mexico during the 2020 hurricane season.

Scores of Latter-day Saints families have been affected — in some cases twice — by this series of storms. Many more have answered calls to serve in Church-sponsored Helping Hands relief efforts.

Zeta hit the southeast Louisiana coastline as a Category 2 hurricane before hammering communities across the South, including metropolitan areas such as New Orleans and Atlanta. Six deaths have been connected to the natural disaster, and as many as 2.6 million buildings lin seven states suffered power outages, the Associated Press reported.

By Friday, power was slowly being restored in most impacted areas.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told the Associated Press that his state sustained “catastrophic” damage on Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish, where Zeta punched three breaches in the levee. He ordered Louisiana National Guard soldiers to assist with search-and-rescue efforts.

Edwards also urged people to continue to “be very, very cautious,” explaining to the Associated Press that the storms aren’t typically responsible for most injuries and the fatalities. “It’s the cleanup efforts,” he said. “It’s the use of generators. It’s the carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s the electrocution that comes from power lines.” 

Will Arute of New Orleans told the Associated Press that he heard what sounded like a bomb going off when part of a large oak snapped outside and crashed onto his car and a corner of his home. “It was pretty intense along the eyewall when it went through here,” he said.

Zeta was the 27th named storm of a historically busy year, setting a new record as the 11th named storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. in a single season, well beyond the nine storms that hit in 1916. More than a month is left in the Atlantic hurricane season.

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