Hurricane Harvey wiped out communities spanning from Houston to Louisiana, leaving 30,000 displaced and killing 83 people. It was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States in 12 years. The wettest tropical storm on US record, Harvey caused some areas to experience up to 50 inches of rain. To put that into perspective, Boston, on average, experiences 49 inches of rainfall per year. Families restored to standing on their roofs while their neighborhoods became flooded like rivers and wind gusted up to 130 mph. Houston holds the 4th largest population in the United States, which truly shows how vast an area this storm wreaked havoc on. The massive area in which Hurricane Harvey damaged, coupled with the fact that it quickly went from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in the duration of a single day, made it one of the worst natural disasters in United States history. Economically speaking, Harvey left an estimated monetary loss of between $70 and $200 billion.
On August 26th, J.J. Watt, 3 time AFC Defensive Player of the Year for the Houston Texans, opened a Hurricane Harvey relief fund on YouCaring.com. Since being drafted 11th overall out of Wisconsin in the 2011 NFL Draft, J.J. has become the face of the Houston Texans franchise. J.J. set an initial goal of $200,000. On September 15, 20 days later, J.J. closed the fund, which had raised $37,097,248. No, this is not a typo. J.J. garnered over 185 times the amount of money he had originally aspired to raise, and there were more people who donated to the fund, 209,428, than there were dollars in the initial goal. To put this into even better perspective, J.J. will earn $10.5 million this year from his contract with the Texans. Therefore, over this 20 day period, he raised over triple his annual salary. The NFL has recently been criticized for the way in which some of its players have used their platform. The recent domestic violence accusations against Ezekiel Elliott, along with the well-document Ray Rice case, have cast anything but a positive light on NFL players. However, Watt’s relief efforts have showcased the tremendously positive impact that professional athletes can have on communities in crisis. Hurricane Harvey has caused massive destruction to many areas, and people have come together from not only across the NFL, but also all across the United States to help. Much of this help has come from the sports community, such as the extremely generous $1 million dollar donation of Tennessee Titan’s owner Amy Adams Strunk. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, has donated the same amount, and New England legends Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have donated a combined $150,000. The list does not end there, as countless others associated with the NFL have accounted for more than their fair-share in donations. Outside the NFL, San Antonio billionaire Charles Butt donated $5 million, while other service and donations have come in through celebrities such as Chris Paul, Kevin Hart, Drake, and Jimmy Fallon. I suppose the worst circumstances really do bring out the best in people.
Recently, Third Former Abe Tolkoff designed bracelets to fund ongoing relief efforts. We can do our part as a Belmont Hill community by purchasing Hurricane Harvey wristbands ($3) from the Health Office, the Bookstore, or class officers.