Just before practice on Monday, Troy Calhoun’s wife, Amanda, texted a photo of what looked like an 8-foot alligator swimming down the street in front of her family’s house in Houston.
The Air Force coach said the neighborhood where he lived while he worked as an assistant with the Texans received a mandatory evacuation notice on Monday morning.
In addition to Calhoun’s connections, there are three defensive starters – safety Kyle Floyd, nose guard Cody Gessler and linebacker Grant Ross – from the Houston area. Though Hurricane Harvey and the floods left in its wake haven’t directly impacted Air Force as it prepares for Virginia Military Institute in Saturday’s opener, it’s still weighing heavily on many minds in the program.
“It’s a devastating event for a lot of my friends,” said Ross, a senior linebacker. “Luckily, my family is safe.”
Water hasn’t reached Ross’s parents’ home, though the street is flooded enough that he said his mother has been stuck at home for five days. He isn’t sure if she’ll be able to leave in time to catch a flight to Colorado on Wednesday so she can be there for his final Parents’ Weekend as a cadet.
“It’s challenging at times to balance the two,” Ross said of dealing with constant concern and updates from home with the academic, military and athletic demands at the academy, particularly with the season opener just days away.
Floyd approached the hurricane with a different perspective, one he has developed after riding out hurricanes Ike and Rita.
“The news shows the worst part of it, people dying,” Floyd said. “But there’s always the other side. I always thought of hurricanes as fun times when I was a kid. All the family was together. Card games. Board games. My parents both worked, so it was one of the only times I saw them both in the house. Cousins from other parts of town would come to shack up with you.”
Floods haven’t left Floyd entirely unscathed, either. His family lost a home and was rescued via boat during his childhood.
Floyd – who has five siblings – said his parents have since moved to higher ground and, like Ross’s family, have had water only flood their street but not their home.
Still, he has seen enough horrifying pictures and Snapchats from his friends to grasp the full destruction of this storm. He said his concern for his parents, siblings and grandparents won’t subside until the waters do.
“Even if they were in trouble, they wouldn’t tell me,” Floyd said. “That has me worried, too.”