BETA

Church members fend off icy cold front

Frigid temperatures, wind-driven snow and freezing rain impacted Church members in the United States, necessitating cancellation of Sunday services and weekday Church meetings in many locations.

The Arctic cold front, known as the "Alaska Clipper," has gripped much of the continent with wind-chill temperatures dipping to 100 or more degrees below zero in some places. The front originated in Alaska, where the worst winter in decades halted cars and trucks, froze pipes and turned heating oil to jelly.In Dubois, Idaho, Bishop Jeffrey S. Green of the Beaver Creek Ward reported that one rancher, a Church member, may have lost as many as 800 cattle and 600 sheep to a bitter blizzard.

"We just took some of our deacon-age boys down there today to try to help feed some of his sheep," Bishop Green said Feb. 7. "They're working in the lambing sheds, helping to carry feed and water. It's a pitiful sight. They are trying to put the sheep's mouths in buckets of water to get them to drink."

Bishop Green said some of the livestock probably walked 20 or 30 miles in the blizzard, trying to find a way to get out of it. "The faces of some of the sheep were completely frozen, and some are still buried or stranded."

The bishop said members of the Civil Air Patrol have been flying airplanes over the area in an attempt to spot surviving livestock.

Strong winds have caused snowdrifts as high as 15 feet. With temperatures already 30 degrees below zero, the winds of 30 to 60 mph have caused a chill factor of minus 100 at times, he said.

Motorists heading north through Dubois Feb. 2 were stranded when the highway was closed. They found lodging with Church members, the bishop said. He added that Church services on Feb. 5 were canceled because of the severe weather.

Sunday meetings were also canceled in parts of Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, according to E. Eugene Callens Jr., regional representative in the Little Rock Arkansas Region and a Louisiana resident. In those states, the cold front combined with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to form freezing rain that coated highways with half-inch sheets of ice.

"The whole northern part of Louisiana is at home today," Elder Callens said Feb. 6, adding that the hazardous driving conditions made it advisable to cancel the Sunday services.

Cut Bank (Mont.) Branch Pres. Scott "O" Gage said residents there saw a 90-degree drop in temperature during a 24-hour period on Feb. 1 and 2, from 60 degrees above to about 34 degrees below zero. Although they are used to frigid winter weather in northern Montana, Cut Bank residents did not expect the wind gusts of up to 100 mph accompanying the cold front, he added.

"We had quite a few shingles ripped from the roof of our meetinghouse, and we will have to replace part of the roof," he said. "A couple of our members had the roofs torn from their mobile homes. They have been taken care of as far as shelter and food is concerned."

Auxiliary meetings were canceled during the week due to the weather, Pres. Gage said.

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