The devastation of Hurricane Harvey feels especially personal for former Seattle Seahawks safety Jordan Babineaux.
Babineaux is a native of Port Arthur, Texas, a city with a population of 55,000 that found itself almost completely underwater following the devastation of Harvey. Babineaux’s mother evacuated by boat, and one of his close childhood friends evacuated by helicopter.
“I mean, talking about it kind of has me shaken up,” Babineaux told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “The more I tune into social media and watch news coverage, the more desire I get to hustle up the initiative and efforts to send resources.”
Watching coverage of the devastation and hearing first-hand accounts from friends and family spurred Babineaux into action: he and his brother, Jonathan, have started Port Arthur’s Hurricane Harvey Restoration Emergency Fund, with a goal of raising $100,000, as well as collecting supplies and resources. Babineaux plans to hand-deliver 100 percent of the money and supplies to residents of Port Arthur and the golden triangle – the area of Texas between Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, which was one of the hardest-hit areas during Harvey.
Harvey evacuees must now return to their homes – assuming their neighborhood is no longer submerged – to put their lives back together.
“I started this fund campaign… to be able to directly go into the community and give them exactly what they need, and of course that need is food, water, baby supplies, clothing, blankets, you name it,” Babineaux said.
“I can’t imagine. It’s hard to believe that I’m seeing the city like this. I’m a young 35 and we’ve been through maybe three, four hurricanes, but never of this magnitude.”
Port Arthur is an industrial city, home to the largest oil refinery in the nation. Babinuex notes much of the city lives on medical assistance and is below the poverty line.
“To get hit with this kind of disaster, they’re left with nothing,” Babineaux said.
What has been a devastating experience for residents of Texas has also been an emotional one for their family members across the U.S. Babineaux has remained in contact with other athletes who are from the area and looking for ways to help, including his brother, Jonathan, and current Seahawks safety Earl Thomas.
“It’s my calling. That’s my calling,” he said. “Many people are doing a number of things and donating to the national organizations… and that’s great and those people do amazing jobs, but this is too personal to not feel like my initiative is not coming directly from me (and) is going to my people. I’m humbled by it for sure.”