While one region of the United States is bearing the brunt of the direct physical effects of what can be described in no less serious terms than a national tragedy, there are those all around the country and in different parts of the world who are also carrying the emotional baggage as they find their family, friends, or hometowns in harm’s way, or simply lost.
I assume you know what I’m referring to, but in case you don’t, you have no doubt been made aware of landfall a few days ago of a devastating hurricane that is still ravaging the state of Texas and the Gulf Coast region as a whole.
Pennsylvania may be out of direct danger of Hurricane Harvey’s path, but there are those here and elsewhere who are feeling the emotional effects, including some members of the Pittsburgh Steelers who have direct personal connections to the region.
Joe Rutter spoke to a couple of them yesterday for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, including a pair of young players who are trying to battle for a roster spot at the same time as grappling with the emotional turmoil of not knowing if loved ones are safe.
One of those players is Demarcus Ayers, whom Rutter notes grew up near Dallas, but attended the University of Houston, one of the hardest-hit cities in the entire region. “People throughout that city have helped me grow”, he said. “I spent the most important years of my life there, so I’m worried”.
While he said that he has heard from his former teammates from Houston, he said, “I’ve reached out to several people and haven’t gotten responses, so I’m definitely worried and somewhat crushed inside”.
Of course, it is not uncommon to lose contact with certain individuals during a tumultuous situation such as this, where access to communication devices may be marginal at best. For his sake, and for the sake of basic goodness, I hope that his loved ones are safe.
Brian Allen, the Steelers’ rookie fifth-round cornerback, also grew up in Texas. While he said that his mother was in town to watch him play, the rest of his family remained and has had to weather the storm. He said that he spoke to one contact remaining there whose family had to be evacuated by a lifeboat.
While we all embrace the game of football in large part because it is an excellent distraction and safe haven from the chaos of our everyday lives and of the world at large, there are times that we have to realize that the football world and the real world necessarily intersect.
This is one of them. One easy way that you can help is to simply text the word HARVEY to the number 90999, which will donate $10 to the Red Cross. There are many charities to choose from, including Austin Pets Alive!, whose goal is to help evacuate stranded pets. I would ask you to consider making some sort of contribution, monetary or otherwise, as a significant portion of our country is in major need of support at this time.