MSU receivers coach Terrence Samuels and sophomores Tyler Higby and Darrell Stewart have family and friends in their native Texas city, which has been ravaged by flooding due to Hurricane Harvey. Matt Charboneau
East Lansing — Seeing pictures of his hometown is almost too hard for Terrence Samuel.
The Michigan State wide receivers coach has spent the better part of the last 27 years living in the Midwest, from the time he started playing college football at Purdue and then working up the ladder of the coaching profession.
But Samuel grew up in Houston, and while he admitted the threat of hurricanes is part of life living along the Gulf of Mexico, what he’s seen over the last couple days from Hurricane Harvey is hard to process.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Samuel said after practice on Tuesday. “It’s uncomfortable. My best friend was sending me (photos). He’s downtown. He’s a police officer and he’s showing me pictures and I have a couple of friends of mine that work at the Omni Hotel down in the Galleria and there is no place to walk. It’s all under water so it is uncomfortable.
“Houston needs support from as many people as it can possibly get.”
Samuel isn’t the only Spartan watching his hometown and hoping his friends and family are safe. Sophomores Tyler Higby and Darrell Stewart are Houston natives and, fortunately, their families have been spared anything catastrophic.
“My family is all pretty good,” Stewart said. “Some of my family is on higher ground and others had to be evacuated to other areas. I call and check on them every day. I’m truly blessed my family has not been affected by it, but friends and other loved ones are. Everyone is coming together. They’ll stick together and pull through this.”
Higby has been doing his best to keep up with the coverage on the news and has talked to his mother on a daily basis. So far, everything is fine at his parents’ house, but he did admit he wasn’t that worried when he first learned there was a hurricane headed for Houston.
Once it hit, that changed quickly.
“My mom told me there was a hurricane coming and I’m like, ‘OK, we’ve had a few since we’ve lived there,’” Higby said. “I never really thought anything of it until after I realized how much rain there was gonna be and how slow the storm was moving. I didn’t realize how much rain there would be.”
The rainfall totals have been historic, to say the least. They had already topped 50 inches as of Tuesday morning and were continuing to rise as the storm kept turning toward New Orleans.
For Samuel, it’s especially tough because most of his family is from the Houston area and in Louisiana. More than once on Tuesday he used the word “uncomfortable” when describing his feelings.
“It’s very difficult because we have family and friends dealing with it right now,” he said. “I pray for them and try to support them as much as I can. But every day that rain is falling it’s hard on you because you don’t know what family member is gonna be stuck in a house. It hasn’t been easy but my family here has been supportive.”
Samuel was able to keep things light Tuesday, recalling a storm when he was a child and talking about seeing a car head down the road without a driver.
However, his mind wasn’t ever far from his family and friends.
“When the wind is going hard and heavy and trees are getting uprooted it can make it uncomfortable,” Samuel said. “But I grew up in it and you have kind of an understanding. I don’t think my wife or kids ever want to be in that situation.
“There’s not much you can do. It’s been that way since 1990 for me when I went up north to Purdue. Every time I go home something changes. It’s uncomfortable.”