Texas: LDS volunteers assist victims after devastation of flood

As water recedes in flood-stricken southeast Texas, the tide of service continues to surge as members are joining together and with the Red Cross in helping victims.

"Devastation" was the way Elder Francis C. Burton Jr., regional representative for the Houston Texas and Houston Texas North regions, described for the Church News the flood-stricken areas he has visited. He explained that relief efforts, including gathering relief supplies and cleaning up debris and homes, will continue as long as necessary. (Please see Oct 29, 1994, Church News for previous article on the flood and relief efforts.)Giving encouragement and commendation to members here during regional conference Oct. 29-30 were President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve.

"Both of them spoke of the tragedy, and they both complimented the members here for their response to the community," Elder Burton related.

LDS response to the disaster has been far-reaching. Members of less-affected wards and stakes throughout the Houston Texas, Houston Texas North and Houston Texas East regions have been lending time and effort to those in need.

"Over 2,000 service hours have now been donated to flood relief efforts in the Beaumont Texas Stake - in less than two weeks," said John Pilmer, a high councilor. Beaumont is about 80 miles east of Houston.

"People in areas just now drying up enough to start receiving help are looking forward to the `Mormons' arriving to help. Hundreds of non-members have benefited from what started out as a project to assist fewer than 15 member families affected by the flood.

"The public relations from this effort has yet to be measured, but certainly many of Heavenly Father's children were brought closer to Christ through this effort - and that is what the gospel is all about."

Brother Pilmer explained that members and missionaries from the Texas Houston East Mission have helped in Northwest Forrest and Bevil Oaks areas of Beaumont, and are currently working in Pinewood. They plan on more relief efforts throughout the area, as much as necessary.

On Oct. 29, about 100 members and missionaries went door-to-door offering help. They removed "waterlogged carpets, ripped out sheet rock and helped salvage furniture and personal effects, such as family history items."

Brother Pilmer added that food and clothing have been gathered by members for distribution to flood victims.

He was especially complimentary to the missionaries, who have put in about half of the 2,000 service hours.

Elder Burton said that Relief Societies from the Houston Texas East Region have been helping in the Forest Cove area of the Kingwood Texas Stake with cleaning and washing.

He noted that coordination with the Red Cross has been arranged. If someone calls the Red Cross for help, that organization will contact a ward representative in the related area for relief efforts.

All local leaders praised members for their willingness to help those in need. Pres. Charles C. Corr, first counselor in the Houston East Stake presidency, said: "Their response was phenomenal. Different groups couldn't understand how a mass body of people could be brought together in such short notice. It was gratifying for us, as local leaders, to see the response of local members."

However, he added, "There's much that needs to be done."

About 100 LDS homes were flooded in the Houston and surrounding areas after torrential rains struck the week of Oct. 16. No LDS were among those killed or injured. Some meetinghouses had minor damage.

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