Missionaries safe in storm-staggered Texas, local Church leaders offering initial relief

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 or heat. Many were also without water service.

Snow and ice grips a neighborhood in East Austin on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. Day six of the statewide freeze and still millions of Texans are without power.
Snow and ice grips a neighborhood in East Austin on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. Day six of the statewide freeze and still millions of Texans are without power. Credit: Bronte Wittpenn, Austin American-Statesman via Associated Press

“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.

Lucy Cardoza of the Memorial Park 1st Ward, Houston Texas Stake, said her bishop and others in her ward have reached out, dropping off water bottles and checking on her well-being.

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,” said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service, referring to Texas.

The wait outside the Houston grocery stores where Cardoza shops “are shorter, but we have to get in line for a long time — and with the very cold weather, which we’re not used to, it makes it hard.”

Donated water is distributed to residents, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Houston. Houston and several surrounding cities are under a boil water notice as many residents are still without running water in their homes. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Donated water is distributed to residents, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Houston. Houston and several surrounding cities are under a boil water notice as many residents are still without running water in their homes. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Credit: David J. Phillip, Associated Press

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.

Latter-day Saint Carlos Muñoz fills jugs with water from his apartment complex swimming pool in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 19, 2021. The water will be used for bathing and cleaning. Credit: Carlos Muñoz