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Local Church Leaders Offering Initial Relief in Storm-Staggered Texas, Oklahoma

Millions across several US regions have endured several days of freezing temperatures, many without electricity and water

People wait in long lines at an H-E-B grocery store in Austin, Texas on February 17, 2021. Millions of Texans are still without water and electric as winter storms continue. Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images.All rights reserved.

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By Jason Swensen, Church News

All missionaries serving in frigid regions of Texas and Oklahoma are accounted for and safe.

Meanwhile, Church priesthood and welfare leaders in those areas were continuing their assessment Friday to determine how Latter-day Saints were faring in the aftermath of a geographically vast, powerful winter storm.

“Local leaders are involved in providing initial relief,” according to Church spokesman Sam Penrod.

Millions across Texas, Oklahoma and other regions of the United States have endured several days of freezing temperatures without electricity. Many were also without water service.

“The power in our home has returned, but we still have no water,” Carlos Muñoz of the Houston 1st Ward, Houston Texas Stake, told the Church News on Friday. “It’s difficult finding stores that are open. There is no drinking water. No bread. No milk. And no firewood for chimneys.”

Fellow ward members, he added, are working hard to care for their ministering families.

Texas officials ordered 7 million people — a quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state — to boil tap water before drinking it following days of record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and froze pipes, the Associated Press reported. Houston residents will likely have to boil tap water until Sunday or Monday.

The latest storm front was certain to complicate recovery efforts, especially in states that are unaccustomed to such weather — parts of Texas, Arkansas and the Lower Mississippi Valley.


“There’s really no letup to some of the misery people are feeling across that area.” — Bob Oravec, lead forecaster

“There’s really no letup to some of the misery people are feeling across that area,” —said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service, referring to Texas.

This week’s extreme weather has been blamed for the deaths of more than 30 people, some of whom perished while struggling to keep warm inside their homes, according to the Associated Press.

The worst U.S. outages by far have been in Texas, where 3 million homes and businesses were without power for a time.

Travel remains ill-advised in much of the United States on Friday, with roadways treacherous and thousands of flights canceled. Many school systems delayed or canceled face-to-face classes.

More than 360,000 Latter-day Saints call Texas home, with another 49,000-plus members living in Oklahoma.

Four temples are in operation in Texas — in Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio. The Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple is that state’s first and only temple.

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