US sports community raises millions to aid Harvey relief efforts

The US sports community has responded to the crisis in Texas after Hurricane Harvey wrought damage on a massive scale.

The hurricane made landfall on Friday, bringing record rainfall and causing major flooding, including in Houston – the fourth most populous city in the US.

Up to 30 people have reportedly been killed, while thousands have fled their homes.

Amid the huge emergency relief efforts, numerous US sports stars and teams have pledged help to those affected.

NFL star J.J. Watt, who plays for the Houston Texans, has begun a YouCaring crowdfunding page that has seen pledges of more than $5 million to help the victims.

Watt initially pledged $100,000 of his own money and set a fundraising target of $200,000, but that has since been upped several times and he has now set his sights on raising $6 million.

The Texans will play the Dallas Cowboys at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Thursday – a game originally scheduled to be held at the Texans’ home NRG Stadium in Houston, but which was moved north over safety fears. 

Texans owner Bob McNair has promised to donate $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston Flood Relief Fund.

“We just have a lot of homeless people and lives that have been disrupted” McNair told Forbes.

“We see neighbors helping neighbors and it really is a reflection of Texas attitude – you don’t see anybody complaining.”

He was joined by the NFL Foundation, which on Monday announced a $1 million pledge to the Salvation Army and Red Cross.

NFL billionaire Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, vowed to match $1 million in donations to the Red Cross.

“Houston is a special city to our family and our organization,” Kraft said in a press release

“The city was a tremendous host for Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 and once again this past February for Super Bowl LI.”

The American football community has been joined in its efforts by MLB and infielder Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Carpenter, a native of the Texas city of Galveston, has vowed to donate $10,000 to relief efforts for each home run he hits for the remainder of the season.

His teammate Adam Wainwright has reportedly matched the pledge, as have the Cardinals.

They were immediately called on to provide funds, as Carpenter hit a homer against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday, earning $30,000 for the relief efforts.

The basketball community is also helping the fundraising drive, with Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander reportedly set to donate $10 million, upping an initial promise of $4 million to help those affected by the devastation.  

“Our hearts are heavy seeing the devastation that so many of our friends, family and neighbors are experiencing,” Alexander said.

Harvey, now downgraded to a Tropical Storm, has returned from the Gulf of Mexico to hit the state of Louisiana, where there are fears of major flooding in a region devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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