As hurricanes brought disaster to parts of North America and the Caribbean over the last few months, many athletes have had to deal with the impact of these storms on their cities. For the five Puerto Rican members of the Houston Astros, the impact has come twice over, from both Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston in August, and from Hurricane Maria’s lingering devastation in Puerto Rico.
The five boricua Astros spoke with USA Today about the impact those storms had on their fans and their communities. To put it bluntly, it was a nightmare for shortstop Carlos Correa, outfielder Carlos Beltran, catcher Juan Centeno, bench coach Alex Cora, and interpreter Alex Cintron.
“It was hard to concentrate, because I didn’t know anything about my family,” said Correa, the hero thus far through the first two games of the ALCS, where the Astros lead the Yankees 2-0. With most of Puerto Rico without power, only Cora could reach his loved ones. Correa couldn’t contact his family for six days, Beltran for five or six, Centeno for a week, and Cintron for 10 days.
Once Beltran was able to get in contact with his family on Puerto Rico, the news he heard wasn’t good: “I was literally going crazy. I was relieved when I heard from them, but the stories they told me broke my heart. They had no power, no water, no gas. My brother spent nearly 25 hours waiting in line for gas. That destroyed me when I heard my brother say that.”
The veteran started a relief fund for the island, donating $1 million himself to kick it off. Astros owner Jim Crane helped the relief effort for the island as well, sending two planes to Puerto Rico; one to bring back family members of the team, and another stockpiled with supplies.
Cora stated that the five of them were able to find a community within themselves to help through the trauma of seeing Puerto Rico’s hardships from afar: “We would sit together and it was like a support group. ‘Did you see this? Did you see that? Wow, that’s unreal. Incredible,’’’ Cora said. “It was hard, and it still is. People don’t realize that the folks there were living through it and just surviving, but they didn’t really know what was going on. We would see all the visuals, and it made you feel desperate.”
About 85% of the 3.4 million U.S. citizens who live on the island are still without power and about one-third of them still don’t have running water; CNN has even reported that water from a federally designated hazardous-waste site is currently being pumped to people across the island. Governor Ricardo Rossello said he expects 95% of the residents will have power by Dec. 15, close to three months from the date Maria hit the island.
You can (and should) read the USA Today story here.