Hurricane Harvey Brings Back Recollections Of Katrina

Sporting Events On Hold In Texas Pardon your friendly neighborhood blog for stepping out of character and writing a bit in the first person. No one can be unmoved...

Sporting Events On Hold In Texas

Pardon your friendly neighborhood blog for stepping out of character and writing a bit in the first person.

No one can be unmoved by the tragic unfolding of events in Houston, a city and a region devastated by flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The scope of human disaster is almost too much to imagine, yet we do not have to imagine. We see it on television. We know people affected by it. We donate to relief efforts and hope that normality can return as soon as possible, though we wonder exactly how and when.

A number of sporting events in Texas are on hold, being canceled or being moved, and they are really the last of the big concerns. But they remind me so much of the 2005 nightmare in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina came through, the city’s dikes and pumps failed and disaster quickly unfolded.

The New Orleans Saints, who had played a preseason game in Oakland, could not get back home. They flew to San Antonio and I, a reporter for USA Today, joined them there. I stayed a week; they lost months.

The players, coaches and staff tried their best to carry on so far from home under the most trying of circumstances. I interviewed a Saints staffer hustling to perform a number of tasks and he took a moment to tell me his family in New Orleans was safe – but that his family, long rooted in the Lakeville district, had lost a total of five houses to floodwaters. And then he hustled on as I scribbled his words in my notebook.

The Saints’ concerns were mostly for family and friends, not football. The team practiced at a rundown high school field with minimal equipment near a highway overpass, and tried to spread their brains and emotions over an unbearable realm of pain.

I did not experience any of the flooding. I was supposed to cover the Saints’ home opener in New Orleans, but there would be none. The Superdome had become a shelter, as had the convention center. My hotel reservation for that game was at a location directly across from the convention center. I never went. The Saints played their “home” opener against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford and the rest of their games at a variety of locations. The Saints’ practice facility in Metairie, Louisiana was taken over as a relief command post.

The tragedy in Houston puts me in mind of the chaos in New Orleans, the suffering, the tremendous relief efforts and an eventual return (at least for many) after several years to their old lives. I think of it again as the NFL moves the Houston Texans’ preseason finale on Thursday night to Arlington, where the Dallas Cowboys become the host.

I wish Houston and the Gulf Coast all the best. I hope people can be rescued, tended to and made safe. I hope the rain stops. All I have for them is hope.

From a great distance in space and time, I remember this all too well.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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