SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Friday nights usually mean bright lights and high school football in Texas. But over a hundred games have been canceled in the Houston area alone in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. For years, Angel Verdejo wrote about high school football for the Houston Chronicle. He's now a communications specialist for the Cypress-Fairbanks school district and joins us now. Thanks so much for being with us.
ANGEL VERDEJO: Oh, no problem. Thanks for having me.
SIMON: I gather, sir, you had to leave your own home. Are there a lot of schools that are being used now to help shelter people and handle supplies?
VERDEJO: Yes. Basically, every corner of greater Houston - and, of course, it goes - down all the way down to greater Corpus and even now the Beaumont area because they kind of caught the tail end of the - of Hurricane Harvey and the days of rain. There are pockets of schools, administration buildings - anything that's being used that can house churches, you know, faith-based organizations.
I know in my district, for example, our largest building - it's called the Berry Center - which is basically a complex that houses an arena, theater, conference center plus the neighboring adjacent football stadium - that's become sort of a point of distribution where we're gathering a lot of our donations and distributing as well.
It hasn't been used as a shelter because we've sort of - not so much partnered up. But one of the larger churches in our independence school district in the area has sort of become the shelter for Cy-Fair. And again, it's hit all corners. I mean, you look at every side of Houston - the north side, the south side, which of course was closer to the water - you're going to find shelters, a place to send your donations.
And, of course, the main thing that we've seen, not just with - with everyone - but student athletes and teachers and faculty and staff members - everyone in all corners of Houston have been helping to rescue people and to rebuild and collect and, you know, to dig out all the waterlogged drywall and furniture - all that kind of stuff.
SIMON: And the guys on the football team can be really useful doing that, maybe more so than a playing last night.
VERDEJO: Yeah. I mean, if you need to get some furniture - you know, the heavy lifting - now's the time to get those offensive and defensive linemen in. Again, it's - you know, you hate that it becomes - an event like this is what helps show just how great human nature can be. But again, it's another example of how people can come together.
And again, I've seen not just my own school district, but schools from all up and down the Texas coast that we've been up (unintelligible). And I've seen just athletes, football players, coaches - I mean, people helping each other. People helping their neighbors. People they don't even know, just anyone that needs help. There - I mean, social media has been a big help in getting word out. But people are getting any kind of assistance they need right now.
SIMON: I kind of keep an eye on Lamar of Houston. And I gather, the game against Westfield last night was canceled. But one school is back. And I think that's on September 11, if I'm not mistaken from what I read. Is football going to be a little more important than ever?
VERDEJO: Yes, because, I mean, we've seen - especially in Texas, you'll have hurricanes along the coast, tornadoes in other parts of the state that and really all across the country - that sports and anything that involves your community has a way to bring it back to normalcy, sort of galvanize.
You know, I was glued to the TV yesterday. They had a special - a Texas high school - the UYL, which is sort of the governing body of Texas public high schools, teamed up with Fox Sports Southwest. They put on this - basically this special. High school football games in the regular season on Fridays have never been telecast live - sort of a way of keeping people going to the games.
But they televised Thursdays and Saturdays. But I was glued because I had to watch because I wanted to see. And again, tons of games have been canceled. We'll have some more next week. And I think we'll get going a little more in the weeks after.
But yes, you'll have communities that once we do get going and once we get the games, the communities that have been sitting here waiting for something good to happen, they'll, at least for those two or three hours, they'll have a chance to go out and root for the players that have helped them - the kids that they know. And just, again, everybody is talking about normalcy, and that will definitely help.
SIMON: Angel Verdejo, thanks very much for being with us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.