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General News

Greek-Americans in Texas on the Unprecedented Bad Weather

February 24, 2021
By Matina Demelis

HOUSTON, TX – The unprecedented bad weather that hit the State of Texas last week caused serious problems in homes but also in many businesses that were forced to close. Many houses were left without electricity and water for days, while the Annunciation (Evangelismos) Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Houston, where the first Greek church in the area was built 108 years ago, also sustained damage.

At the same time, a well-known furniture center in Texas opened its stores to people who were forced out of their homes to use the beds. The owner handed them blankets, turned on the televisions, and offered food from the kitchens of the shops.

“I have lived in Texas since 1946 and I have never seen anything like it lasting for so long. We had a lot of damage, pipes broke from the ice. We did not have electricity in the house, it was difficult without heating,” Antonis Kouzounis, broker and former president of AHEPA who lives in central Texas, told The National Herald.

"I did not go to the office for days. We had a lot of ice and then snow on top and you could not walk. On Thursday, it started to melt slowly. We could not even get gasoline for the cars, while most restaurants in the city were closed because they had no water,” added Kouzounis.

Mrs. Zavitsanou, born in Houston, lives with her husband in the Houston Memorial area, a suburb of Houston, and as she told TNH she had not seen snow in 30 years. "It is a rare phenomenon here for the temperature to drop below 30 degrees. There has been a lot of damage. We still cannot drink the water. We have to boil it. It is hard to find bottled water to buy. Many houses were left without water and heating for days. At least 25 people, mostly elderly, died in Houston,” said Zavitsanou.

She pointed out that the Greek-American community remained united in this catastrophe. "We experienced worse situations with Hurricane Harvey. As we did then, so now we helped each other. A Greek friend welcomed several people into his house. We stayed there for a few days. Friends and relatives from Greece keep calling me to see if I am ok. From what I learn, the problems are bigger in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio,” she added.

Annunciation Cathedral in Houston was also damaged. "Some pipes broke in the offices of the community, but from what I learned, the community, members of the church immediately went and repaired the damage. Father Michael from the parish of Evangelismos was constantly calling us to see if we were well and if we needed anything,” said Zavitsanou.

The presiding priest of the parish of Evangelismos for the last 14 years, Fr. Michael Lambakis, has never experienced anything like this, as he told TNH.

“I have experienced two hurricanes and several floods. What we experienced was something unprecedented. Unfortunately, our church suffered a lot of damage and flooded with 4,000 gallons of water. The festival kitchen and walls inside the church were also damaged. Fortunately, we have repaired most of the damage,” said Fr. Lambakis.

The members of the church did everything possible to clean the premises, as a wedding took place on Saturday and everything had to be in order.

Lillian Pantos has been living in Texas for the past 19 years. She previously lived in Chicago and chose to move to Texas for its good climate. “We had a serious problem with the electricity. They had it for two days and then they cut it to supply it elsewhere. We should not have reached this point. The State should have taken care earlier and not reached this point. I feel so sorry for everyone. Many have lost their homes and we also have many homeless people,” said Pantos.

Bad weather has caused a number of problems for Texas residents, who, despite experiencing hurricanes and floods, are not accustomed to low temperatures and snow.

As TNH contributor in Texas Elias Neofytides pointed out, in addition to the difficulties that residents had to face in their homes, there were major problems on the roadways. “Highways, because they are at a higher level than other roads, froze more easily resulting in accidents.”

Michael Soulos has been living in Texas since 1965. "What happened is a drama. Unacceptable. For four days we were without electricity and water. The temperature inside the house was 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Texas is the ninth largest economy in the world, the capital of energy. Our mechanisms are from the 19th century and we are in the 21st century. They promised to fix everything and did nothing,” he said.

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