Preparation Helps Members in U.S. Endure Frigid Temperatures

  By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 16 January 2014

Snow and ice collect on a pine tree. Several Latter-day Saint families said their pre-storm preparations helped them enjoy peace of mind even as the snow fell and the temperatures continued to drop into the teens and single digits in locales as far apart as Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta.

Article Highlights

  • Temperatures dropped well below freezing in many areas of the U.S.
  • Members said their pre-storm preparations helped them enjoy peace of mind as temperatures fell.
  • Although no major damages occurred, Church members and leaders stayed in contact to ensure needs were met.

Mobile Alabama Stake President J. Nathan Jurgens is something of an expert when it comes to enduring the cold. He grew up in Oregon and has lived in Utah. He's skilled with a snow shovel and knows all the tricks to dressing warm.

But the recent deep freeze that stretched across much of the United States—from the Midwest, across to the East Coast, and even into the Deep South—left even a frosty weather vet like President Jurgens scrambling for the nearest down-filled quilt.

“It's never in my life seemed this cold,” he told the Church News as he endured another day of record-low temperatures in Mobile—a city to which folks traditionally flee each winter in search of more mild conditions.

The historic and broadly dispersed band of polar air settled on much of the country just as people were returning to work and school after the holidays. The mercury dipped into the teens and single digits in locales as far apart as Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta.

Church members in affected regions endured the extreme weather along with their neighbors. There were no reports of widespread damage or Church-related humanitarian needs, according to LDS Humanitarian Response director Bruce Muir.

Still, several Latter-day Saint families said their pre-storm preparations helped them enjoy peace of mind even as the snow fell and the temperatures continued to drop.

Sarah Severson said her well-stocked food shelves kept her family in good spirits even when several frozen pipes burst in her home outside of Chicago.

“I would have been a lot more stressed if we had not been prepared,” said Sister Severson of the North Shore 1st Ward, Wilmette Illinois Stake. “Plus, the members looked out for each other.”Many of her neighbors were not so calm as food and other provisions quickly disappeared from the shelves of crowded local grocery stores.

Visiting teachers kept in contact with the Seversons and other ward members to ensure each other's needs were met.

Boston-area member Rick Doane was at the Franklin Ward building on January 5 for Sunday meetings when a meetinghouse pipe burst, sending water cascading in one section of the building. A young single adult branch that had gathered for sacrament meeting had to be evacuated.

Outside of the meetinghouse plumbing issues, Brother Doane said member families seemed to have fared generally well. In recent years, the Hingham Massachusetts Stake has made family and ward preparation a high priority so members would be ready if or when trouble hits. The stake even conducted drills to increase readiness.

Birmingham Alabama Stake President Michael Slezak noted that several members in his stake are suffering from colds and other flu-like ailments—but otherwise doing well.“It's been a real comfort to know we're prepared,” he said.

Frozen pipes burst in three meetinghouses in the stake, “but most families were reasonably well prepared,” he reported.

The Birmingham area has been the target of natural disasters in the past—including a devastating band of tornadoes that hit the region in 2011. Members know well the value of being ready.

At press time, the record-setting cold appeared to be on its way out. Weather forecasts across the nation were calling for much warmer conditions.

“It’s supposed to be 70 degrees in Mobile this weekend,” said a hopeful President Jurgens.