The temple president of the Houston Texas Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said in a press release Monday night that floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey have breached the building.
According to the press release posted on Mormon Newsroom, “it appears water to a depth of four or five inches has gone inside the temple,” said Marshall Hayes, president of the temple. “That includes a baptistry, a marriage waiting room, dressing rooms, kitchen and laundry. We haven’t been able to go inside so we really don’t know the extent of the damage.”
Earlier Monday, Eric Hawkins, church spokesman, said “the temple closed on Saturday following the 11 a.m. session, and it’s unknown when the temple will reopen.”
The church reported all missionaries are safe in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, though several missions have been affected.
“Significant precautions were taken before Hurricane Harvey’s arrival to help missionaries remain safe,” Hawkins said.
He said each missionary companionship gathered enough food and water to shelter for several days. Some missionaries were moved out of areas where the greatest potential for flooding existed. Several companionships are in flooded areas, but they are well and are in contact with their mission presidents.
“As flooding subsides and cleanup efforts begin, missionaries will be engaged in helping the communities where they serve,” Hawkins said. “As is customary in times of crisis, mission presidents have asked missionaries to contact their families by email to let them know they’re safe, and have provided updates to families, as possible, through the weekend.”
As of early 2017 there were a total of 348,130 members, eight missions and four temples in Texas. In the line of the hurricane was the Texas McAllen Mission, originally named the Texas Corpus Christi Mission in 1989. It was renamed the Texas McAllen Mission on February 24, 1994. The Houston Temple is located in Klein, Texas.
Hawkins added that several local chapels have experienced water damage, and many worship services were canceled Sunday.
“As required, our buildings may be used as shelters or to stage relief and cleanup supplies, as determined by local leaders,” Hawkins said. “Local leaders are working to identify the needs of those in their congregations and communities, and to care for those in need.”
On Friday, the LDS Church began sending water, hygiene and cleanup kits to a regional bishop’s storehouse near Houston.
“These supplies will be offered to any who are in need,” Hawkins said. “We will continue to monitor the situation including the needs for additional supplies, resources and volunteers.”
This is not the first time the LDS Church has responded to a Texas hurricane. Total church response to Hurricane Ike in September 2008 included 80,640 hygiene kits (six truckloads), four truckloads of water, 4,800 food boxes (four truckloads) that included rice, vegetable oil, peanut butter, fruit drink mix and assorted canned goods, and more.
The LDS Church partners regularly with other aid organizations in such situations, and will continue to work with community partners to assess and address needs following the disaster.
LDS Church leaders including President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (who was in Houston last year and met with Mayor Sylvester Turner) have reached out to offer messages of encouragement and to pledge a willingness to help in the recovery and cleanup efforts, Hawkins added.
“We are praying for the people of Texas and invite others to join us in those prayers,” Hawkins said. “Anyone wishing to provide support for our efforts to give aid to those in Texas is encouraged to make a donation to the Church’s Humanitarian Fund.”