Missionaries, members safe amid Hurricane Zeta’s heavy rains and winds

Latter-day Saints and their neighbors living across the United States Southeast 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, Oct. 28. 

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

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

William Holden, right, and James Duffy, left, look at the damage on the trailer where a man was killed by a fallen tree at Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, at East Gate Mobile Home Park in Acworth, Ga.
William Holden, right, and James Duffy, left, look at the damage on the trailer where a man was killed by a fallen tree at Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, at East Gate Mobile Home Park in Acworth, Ga. Credit: Christina Matacotta/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

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

Zeka hit the Louisiana southeast coastline as a Category 2 hurricane before hitting communities across the South, including metropolitan areas such as New Orleans and Atlanta. Six deaths are being connected to the natural disaster and as many as 2.6 million homes and businesses lost power across seven states, the Associated Press reported.

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

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said his state sustained “catastrophic” damage on Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish, where Zeta punched three breaches in the levee. Edwards ordered the Louisiana National Guard to fly in soldiers to assist with search and rescue efforts and urged continued caution.

“Oddly enough, it isn’t the storms that typically produce the most injuries and the fatalities. It’s the cleanup efforts. It’s the use of generators. It’s the carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s the electrocution that comes from power lines. So, now is the time to be very, very cautious out there,” Edwards told the Associated Press.

Debris is scattered across Highway 90 in Pass Christian, Miss., on Oct. 29, 2020, following the storm surge from Hurricane Zeta. (Calvin Ishee/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)
Debris is scattered across Highway 90 in Pass Christian, Miss., on Oct. 29, 2020, following the storm surge from Hurricane Zeta. (Calvin Ishee/The Gazebo Gazette via AP) Credit: AP

Will Arute of New Orleans said it sounded like a bomb went off when part of a large oak snapped outside and crashed into his car and a corner of his home.

“I did not anticipate this to happen. 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 with more than a month left in the Atlantic hurricane season. It set 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.