Seth Payne says he’s one of the lucky ones.
The Victor and Cornell grad lives in League City, Texas which is just southeast of Houston. His neighborhood hasn’t been hit very hard by Hurricane Harvey.
“It’s community by community. Some entire counties have got hit pretty hard and have had to evacuate,” Payne said. “There’s really no way to predict what exactly is going to happen in a storm like this because it’s unprecedented.”
Payne played ten seasons in the NFL after graduating from Cornell. His last five were with the Houston Texans and that’s where he settled. Payne is now a sports talk radio host on Sportsradio 610 in Houston.
He’s fairly well versed in hurricanes and understands why many now need to be rescued after not evacuating. It’s a move that may actually have saved lives.
“Hurricane Rita back in 2005 came one year after Hurricane Katrina and a lot of people outside evacuation zones tried to get out. It created a disaster unto itself,” Payne said. “Officials had to keep that in mind. Without knowing exactly what was going to happen, they didn’t want millions of people stranded out on the roads.”
Payne calls the efforts of many normal citizens who have taken up the cause of helping and even saving others “heartwarming”.
“There are a lot of people coming in with their fishing boats from out of state,” Payne says. “We’re doing what a communities are supposed to do. The government can only do so much. We’re trying to pick up the slack. Get things done. Figure things out.”
The lack of wind damage from Harvey has been a blessing. Many who did not evacuate still have power.
It’s been emotional watching the many that were forced to leave their homes.
“When you see people having to trudge through water with nothing–they’ve got a garbage bag full of their belongings–and especially those with young children, it tears at your heart,” Payne said. “I’ve just been blown away by the resilience of those people and how they manage to soldier on despite just losing everything.”
Harvey has wreaked havoc on sports schedules, too. The Astros will play their next three games in Tampa instead of Minute Maid Park in Houston. The three games over the weekend against the Mets will probably be in Tampa, too.
The Houston Texans are practicing in Dallas this week. The NFL announced Monday the preseason game between the two teams, originally scheduled for Houston, will now be played in Dallas.
Payne says Houston management is not looking past Thursday’s preseason game to the status of the regular season home opener a week from Sunday. There are more pressing concerns with their players.
“The thing they’re focused on most right this moment is being sure they can help the players on the team take care of their families here in Houston because that’s weighing heavily on all those guys,” Payne said. “It’s impossible to get back here. It’s impossible to get back in some places. So, they just have to stay up there and hope for the best. The Texans, the team is helping them do that as much as possible.”
Payne is thankful this storm is happening in the era of social media. He’s been quick to alert family and friends back home in Rochester that he’s doing all right via Facebook and Twitter. That also goes for friends and colleagues who live in the 60 mile radius around Houston. Some have been forced to evacuate.
Cleanup from this storm is going to take a long time. Payne thinks Houston is ready.
“We’re in this for the long haul here.”