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Clean up after tropical storm floods Houston

At least 119 LDS families fled their homes June 8-9 after flooding caused by tropical storm Allison submerged the Houston, Texas, area causing 17 deaths, flooding more than 10,000 businesses and homes and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

Members of the Inwood Ward, Houston Texas Cypress Stake, offer service after flooding in community June 8-9.
Members of the Inwood Ward, Houston Texas Cypress Stake, offer service after flooding in community June 8-9. Photo: Photo by John Fjeldsted

No members or missionaries were injured in the storm, which caused an estimated $1 billion damage to the community.

Flooding also submerged the concert hall where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was scheduled to begin its eight-city concert tour in the South on June 15. A substitute location for the concert was secured at the Astroarena, 8400 Kirby Drive, in Houston.

Brent Peterson, Choir manager, expressed appreciation for the many people in the Church, choir and community who worked together to find the location.

While the grounds of the Houston Texas Temple were flooded, no water reached the inside of the building. Local Church leaders say massive clean-up efforts are now, in the storm's wake, needed in many areas.

"The members have really responded," said Freddy Muoz, president of the Houston Texas Spanish Stake.

President Muoz said 93 families in his stake were impacted by the flood — including 45 families whose property was severely damaged.

Some members had as much as 4 1/2 feet of water in their homes, he added.

Affected members of the Houston Texas Spanish Stake were immediately provided shelter in the homes of other members, including President Muoz's house. Only two families initially sought cover in a public shelter.

"When we found out about them, we went and got 'em," President Muoz said.

The floods have been been a frightening episode for many in Houston. One Church member found himself trapped inside his car as water filled the cab. Struggling, the man was able to pop open the door, squirm out of his car and swim to land.

Despite the damage, President Muoz said the members of his stake remain in good spirits. Forty-five priesthood holders from one ward recently gathered to help with the clean-up efforts, assisting both member and other families. Similar efforts have happened in other units.

Relief Society sisters help with clean-up effort.
Relief Society sisters help with clean-up effort. Photo: Photo by John Fjeldsted

Robert P. Mathews, president of the Kingwood Texas Stake, said that within his stake boundaries 15 families were displaced and 15 more homes of members sustained water damage. Because the southern part of the stake was not accessible immediately following the disaster, work parties have been organized for the weekend, he said.

Half the stake was not affected at all by the flooding, he added, so members adopted local relief shelters and began providing round-the-clock volunteer service June 9. They also delivered food, via the Red Cross, to an additional shelter. "We have been cooking and helping with shelters since Saturday morning," he said.

Missionaries in the Texas Houston Mission, the Texas Houston East Mission and the Texas Houston South Mission were also busy giving service following the flood, despite being heavily affected themselves. "We had missionaries that were neck-deep in water," said Elder Justin Jasperson of the Houston East mission. Four missionaries were stranded in their car when one companionship went to pick up another two missionaries from their flooded apartment. They spent the night in the flooded car.

Elder Doyle E. Rose, vehicle coordinator for the Houston South mission, said missionaries there are all back in their apartments. "They are doing some service now," he said.

Members will recover from the flood and the massive damage it caused, as they serve one another, Church leaders said.

"One brother told me, 'As long as my testimony is not flooded everything will be all right,' " President Muoz said.

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