Har­vey hits home for pair of Stam­ped­ers

Trop­i­cal storm’s dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects leave Tex­ans Mitchell and Davis feel­ing ‘help­less’ in Canada

Winnipeg Free Press - - SPORTS - DONNA SPENCER

ALGARY — The restau­rant Bo Levi Mitchell once fre­quented has been claimed by trop­i­cal storm Har­vey. Flood­wa­ters have threat­ened to breach the sand­bags around his fam­ily’s home in Katy, Texas.

Ja’Gared Davis’s mother, Gayla, fled Hous­ton and headed north to his home­town of Crock­ett. Davis says a close friend re­quired res­cue in Hous­ton.

Mother Na­ture is on the minds of the two Calgary Stam­ped­ers as much as Mon­day’s Labour Day game against the Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos.

The pic­tures and videos they’ve seen of sub­merged cars, homes and in­ter­state high­ways, com­bined with the up­dates they’re get­ting from fam­ily and

Cfriends in their home state, are wor­ri­some. “Be­ing up here, I feel help­less,” Davis said Wed­nes­day. “All I can do is send my heart­felt con­do­lences and my prayers and know I’m there with them men­tally if I can’t be with them phys­i­cally. It’s hard.”

As quar­ter­back of the high school Tigers in foot­ball-mad Katy, Mitchell’s en­vi­ron­ment wasn’t far off Fri­day Night Lights as de­picted in the book, movie and tele­vi­sion se­ries.

His fa­ther, Dwight (every­one calls him Mitch) and step­mother, Su­san, live in the city of 17,000 just west of Hous­ton, as do Mitchell’s step­sis­ters, two broth­ers and ex­tended fam­ily.

“Can’t leave their houses yet,” the Stam­ped­ers quar­ter­back re­ported. “Wa­ter the last cou­ple days was about half­way up the drive­way and yes­ter­day got up to the door and didn’t go in.

“They’ve got sand­bags around the houses. They’ve moved the fur­ni­ture up­stairs and they’re all just kind of sit­ting up­stairs mak­ing sure noth­ing bad hap­pens.

“It’s in­sane to think about. I know that city front to back, like the back of my hand.

“Some of the pic­tures and videos I’ve seen, the I-45 go­ing out to­wards Rich­mond, it looked like an ocean. Waves with white­caps on top of them. It’s like one of those movies, the end of the world kind of thing.

“It’s a help­less feel­ing,” he con­tin­ued. “Even if I flew down there, I don’t know if I can get into the city right now. I’d have to find some­body with a boat.”

Mitchell and Davis feel torn be­tween want­ing to help out those at home and know­ing there’s little they can do right now other than con­tinue to earn their liv­ing on the foot­ball field in Canada.

While Har­vey con­tin­ues to drench south­ern Texas, south­ern Al­berta by con­trast is as dry as a cin­der with the Stam­ped­ers prac­tis­ing un­der smoky haze from B.C. for­est fires.

For Mitchell, foot­ball is a men­tal refuge from wor­ry­ing about Har­vey’s im­pact on his home­town and those in it.

“It might sound self­ish, but I try and use foot­ball as my get­away,” Mitchell said.

“Ob­vi­ously there’s al­ways the thought in the back of my head that some­thing bad could hap­pen and I’m al­ways think­ing of my fam­ily in that way, but my fam­ily is strong.

“The guys in my fam­ily would not only help their fam­ily, but ev­ery­body else around them. I have a lot of faith in those guys.”

He and Davis are com­forted by the heroic work they see vol­un­teers and res­cue work­ers do­ing to bat­tle the flood.

Calgary’s next bye week is the first week of Oc­to­ber, when Davis in­tends to be on a plane head­ing home to pitch in.

“Ku­dos to the city of Hous­ton and state of Texas,” the de­fen­sive line­man said. “Ev­ery­body is pulling to­gether and ev­ery­body is com­ing from all over to help out and lend­ing a help­ing hand.

“Ev­ery­body needs a help­ing hand.”

PETER POWER / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

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