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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA athletes from Houston weigh in on Hurricane Ike

    Arizona sprinter Bobby McCoy’s mother and sister sat on the downstairs floor of their home in Houston, Texas, bracing for the worst Friday night.

    The redshirt senior talked to his family from Tucson throughout the evening, listening to the incoming storm that later put the nation’s fourth-largest city into shock.

    “”She could just hear the winds and it was howling,”” McCoy said.

    The worst McCoy has ever experienced in Houston was Tropical Storm Allison in June 2001, but that was, “”at most, just a whole lot of rain.””

    McCoy is one of six current UA athletes directly from the Houston area. He’s one of many more from the outskirts of the area.

    Fendi Onobun and Nic Wise (men’s basketball), Beck Miller (men’s golf), Earl Mitchell and Herman Hall (football) are also from Houston, along with two former members of the men’s basketball squad, guard Jawann McClellan and coach Josh Pastner.

    “”The city’s paralyzed,”” said Josh Pastner’s dad, Hal Pastner, from a Starbucks in his Houston subdivision that had electricity. “”We don’t have electricity, the trees are down; it’s unbelievable. You wouldn’t believe it unless you saw it. Where we are, a lot of trees went through peoples’ homes. Fortunately, all our trees just fell without really damaging the house, although we do have some leakage coming through the roof.

    “”It’s pretty scary,”” Hal Pastner added, “”with the winds and the noises.””

    While Hal Pastner, whom Wise, Onobun and McClellan played under in the Houston Hoops AAU circuit, was able to use his computer and talk on his cell phone at Starbucks, McCoy said his family and friends are keeping their phones charged with their car chargers.

    For the first couple of days after the storm hit, however, many phones didn’t work at all.

    “”It was a little difficult for me last weekend because I couldn’t get in touch with my family,”” Mitchell said. “”I just recently got in touch with them and they’re doing well. Just to be able to hear them is good.””

    Hall was in the hotel in New Mexico over the weekend when he got a chance to talk to his parents and make sure everything was alright.

    “”They didn’t have any power but they told me everything was OK and it made it kind of easier to go on with my day,”” Hall said.

    Hal Pastner and his wife, Marla, stocked up on water and gasoline before the hurricane hit. They’ve been using candlelight and a battery-powered radio to get their news about the storm.

    Hal Pastner said he was fortunate to fill his car with gas quickly Tuesday, but his neighbor had to wait eight hours to do the same thing Wednesday.

    In an effort to avoid the response to Hurricane Rita in 2005, in which 110 people were killed trying to evacuate compared to nine killed in the storm, Houston natives were encouraged to stay in their homes.

    “”Most the people I know have decided to stick it out,”” McCoy said. “”They’re boarding up the windows and stuff.””

    Rita, which caused about $11.3 billion in damage and had wind gusts upward of 180 mph, gave the Houston natives who endured it the necessary hope to get through the current crisis.

    “”We’d already been through Rita, which was pretty big,”” Mitchell said. “”I know that my family will be all right.””

    McCoy’s family left for Austin, Texas, when Rita came around, but of course, they came back. Since they made their way from Chicago to Houston in 1996, they’ve enjoyed their stay.

    And they don’t plan on leaving Houston any time soon.

    “”We like it in Houston,”” McCoy said. “”We love the weather, besides the hurricanes. The people down there are great. (My mom) doesn’t want to pick up and move with my sisters.””

    At night, Houston is a ghost town. A 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew law was set Sunday and is in effect until Saturday.

    So far, about 100 people have been cited for curfew violations and 94 have been arrested for looting, according to The Associated Press.

    “”I’m not leaving my neighborhood,”” Hal Pastner said. “”You can’t go anywhere.””

    If anything, the disaster has taught Houstonians to enjoy the little things in life: stores with generators, time spent with family and even the small doughnut shop that was open the day after the storm hit because it borrowed electricity from the fire station next door.

    “”They probably had their greatest day of selling doughnuts and coffee,”” Hal Pastner said with a laugh.

    “”I’m thankful for everyday,”” he added. “”The fact that I can even be here and enjoy time with my life – I’m fine. Everyone in Houston – we will be fine.””

    ð– Ari Wasserman contributed reporting

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