By ALEXANDER DIMISA
Sports & Heath Editor
On Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey made landfall between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. This was the first “major hurricane,” meaning a Category 3 or higher storm, to make landfall in the United States since Wilma hit Florida in 2005. Over four days, the Hurricane dropped more than 40 inches of rain in areas across the Houston metropolitan area and southeastern Texas, with peak totals at 64.58 inches. This made Harvey the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the US. One of the most impacted areas was the major metropolitan city of Houston, which, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, received 44.91 inches of rain from the storm. This massive accumulation of rain, combined with the wind that the storm brought, caused massive damages.
Aside from the physical accumulation of rain, the storm also took a great toll on the people. The casualties in the US alone was more than 80 individuals. This is a striking number, considering that the storm occurred over heavily populated areas. In addition to those who passed as a result of the storm, over 30,000 people were displaced, and more than 17,000 rescues were conducted.
The toll on life is obvious and devastating, but so is the physical/financial toll. Early estimates predict that the storm caused damage and economic losses between $70 billion and $200 billion and damaged more than 48,000 homes and 700 businesses. It is clear now that rebuilding after this storm is going to be a long, expensive and tedious process. One thing that is going to help in this rebuilding process is the presence of many famous athletes, celebrities and sports teams.
One of the most proactive figures helping his adopted home city is J.J. Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans. Born in Wisconsin, but drafted by the Texans in 2011, J.J. has grown into one of the best players currently in the National Football League (NFL) and is arguably one of the best defensive players in NFL history. When he witnessed the devastation that Harvey brought to the city that he represents, he decided that he must do all he can to help.
Watt created a fundraiser whose donations went to help buy different goods and services that were desperately needed in the aftermath. On Sept. 15, after less than a month of fundraising, the donations concluded. In total, it raised $37,123,057 from more than 200,000 people. To put that into perspective, this is more than 3x the amount Watt is set to earn this year ($12 million.) Numerous other athletes donated to his fundraiser including Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, quarterback and coach for the New England Patriots, who both donated over $50,000. This is just the beginning of the list of those who have helped or pledged to help with Harvey relief.
Bob McNair, owner of the Texans, announced that he would donate $1 million to assist in the relief, with the NFL promising to match any of the relief efforts made by Mr. McNair. Los Angeles Rams’ Stan Kroenke is also going to donate $1 million to the Red Cross for relief efforts. The Houston Astros, the Houston affiliate of Major League Baseball (MLB), has already donated $4 million in addition to donating all concessions, ticket and parking revenue from a three-game series right after the hurricane to relief efforts. The Houston Rockets, the local team of the National Basketball Association (NBA) originally pledged to donate $4 million to the mayor of Houston’s relief fund, but has since increased that amount to $10 million. A plethora of other athletes and teams have pledged other amounts and have come out in droves to support Houston and the relief efforts. In addition, some players have volunteered to helping the city hands on, such as Clint Capela of the Rockets who was working with first responders to contact those in need of help. Other teams and players are donating physical items, such as jerseys, cleats and other equipment, to local children’s teams and youth organizations that lost items to the storm.
It was extremely impressive and gratifying to see professional athletes and teams using their platform and money to do good in the communities that they are a part of and supporting those people who support them every game. This continual support is an amazing example of what professional athletes can do.
FEATURED PHOTO COURTESY OF ARIE KIEVIT VIA FLICKR