Seven Nebraska athletes from the Houston-metro area experienced a scare in the final days of August as hurricane Harvey dumped record amounts of rain on the nation’s fourth most populated city.
“This was such a tragedy,” freshman gymnast Karley Hutchinson said. “I’m so sad it had to happen to the people I care about most.”
Karley and her twin sister, Torri, who is also a gymnast at Nebraska, grew up in Pearland, a southeast suburb 15 miles from downtown Houston. Weather reports estimate the area received over 45 inches of rain during the time of the storm.
Junior men’s gymnast Jordan King, who grew up in the north part of Houston, and senior softball pitcher Caitlin Bartsch, who is from the northern suburb, The Woodlands, just over 30 miles from downtown, said their families and homes were not affected.
According to the Nebraska athletic department, the families of senior safety Joshua Kalu and senior running back Adam Taylor were okay.
Kalu went to Alief Taylor High School, located on the west side of Houston. Taylor is from Katy, a western suburb roughly 30 miles from downtown that received over 30 inches of rain in some areas.
The neighborhood surrounding senior sprinter Malcolm White’s home in Katy, saw floodwaters rise as high as waist deep in the streets. However, White said no water got into his home.
White said many of his friends in the area had to be evacuated from their homes because floodwaters were much higher where they lived.
Power outages and poor cellphone coverage caused a lot of worry for many residents in the affected area, including White, who has extended family that lives in the northern parts of Houston.
“We didn’t have contact with my grandfather for a couple of days, but luckily we were able to finally get through on a call to their home,” White said.
Karley, the Pearland native, said she was in contact with family and friends several times a day while the heavy rains were over the area, making sure they were okay.
“They kept telling me the flooding was getting worse and worse,” Karley said. “I was trying to comfort them and tell them it was going to be alright.”
The Hutchinson’s mom, Shawnda, is a flight attendant and was gone throughout the week. Their dad, Robert, was stuck for four straight days at work because the water levels were so high.
Like White, Karley lost contact with her family and friends in the area.
“For a little [while], no one would answer their phone,” she said. “It worried me a lot.”
Karley said she tried to stay focused in class and workouts while the storm was over Houston. She hoped her family and friends would be okay, and that her home would not be damaged.
“I felt so bad for my people and community,” Karley said. “The fact that I couldn’t be there to help them stressed me out.”
Karley said it was sad seeing her gym where her and her sister used to train be destroyed, as well as some of her closest friends houses. She knows that her community will do whatever it takes to help one another.