LEXINGTON, Ky. — Houston has been good to Kentucky basketball, sending several 5-star recruits to the Wildcats in recent years, and now that hurricane-battered city is weighing heavily on coach John Calipari’s mind.
Former UK players Aaron and Andrew Harrison and De’Aaron Fox are from the area, as is current freshman Jarred Vanderbilt, whose family drove to Austin last week to escape what has become unprecedented flooding. Calipari’s first star, Massachusetts legend Marcus Camby, is also living in Houston, so the coach has been busy calling to check on families.
“I’m waiting to hear,” Calipari said Monday during a preseason interview with a few local reporters. “But it looks like it’s just going to get worse, too. You see the flooding and stuff, it’s just [awful]. The worst part of this will be when the flooding recedes and those houses are all — if you don’t get back in there and deal with the mold, you might as well tear down the house. And let’s be real: Who are going to be affected by this the most? [Poor people], no question. They don’t’ have money to tear down walls and do that stuff.
“They’re probably in low-lying areas, just like they were in New Orleans.”
The gut punch of this new storm and its carnage is that many victims of Hurricane Katrina relocated from New Orleans to Houston in 2005 and never went back.
“They get hit twice,” Calipari said. “Can you imagine that in your lifetime?”
Kentucky’s coach announced at Friday night’s UK Alumni Charity Game a $150,000 donation to the Red Cross to directly benefit victims of the storm in Texas — which is still not over. Rain could continue throughout this week, and Calipari knows that folks there will need help for much longer.
“Initially we’re all doing stuff and then it recedes and we’ll all move on to the next issue,” he said. “Well, it’ll be another two years before they [recover]. I heard FEMA this morning and it appears they’ve learned their lesson from Katrina … but this is going to be different because it’s going to be here for another week. Like, we have some recruiting trips [Sept. 10] and I’m not sure we’ll be able to go down there. It may still be raining.”