Hurricane Matthew affecting Eastern football players, families

Sean Hastings and Maher Kawash

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The Eastern football team may be preparing for its matchup against Tennessee State Saturday, but some players’ families are preparing for Hurricane Matthew.

Junior Nick Bruno, redshirt senior Isaiah Nelson and junior Dennis Turner grew up along the Florida coast, in areas where Hurricane Matthew could potentially hit. Redshirt sophomore Bud Martin, freshman Raymond Crittenden, freshman Alex Smith and freshman Mark Williams also reside in Florida.

“Everybody is back home, so just been checking up on them, and they are checking up on me,” Turner said. “It’s my first year here, so I’ve been looking over the news seeing how the hurricane is getting bigger and stronger, but I’ve just been checking in every day and seeing how things are going.”

Some of the players said they have been checking in on their families ahead of the storm, but they are not as worried as one might think because this is not their “first rodeo.”

Nelson said his first hurricane experience came in 2005 when his family’s patio was completely torn off.

Despite the worries back home, the players said it will not affect their mindset for Saturday’s game. But after the game, Bruno and the rest of the Florida residents will continue to check in.

“Most of my family is down there,” Bruno said. “I’ve got a lot of family up north, but immediate family down there, and I’ve been talking to them making sure everything is all right.”

“Until the aftermath, you don’t really know what is going on until then,” Bruno said.

Bruno said he and his family have experienced many large storms before, and they know how to prepare for times like these.

When it comes to preparing for a possibly devastating hurricane, there is not much to do but wait it out.

Bruno said he has been making sure his family is staying safe and has everything they need.

According to The New York Times, the eye of the hurricane was about 100 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach as of 5 p.m. Thursday, and it was moving northwest at 13 miles per hour.

The hurricane has already caused the Louisiana State University at University of Florida football game to be postponed.

Eastern’s game is not in doubt, but it has caused the families of these players to miss the game.

“My mom called me the other day; she was supposed to be coming out here this weekend,” Bruno said. “Obviously, they are shutting down airports, so she broke the news that she might not be able to make it out, but life happens.”

The players’ families will not be traveling anywhere to avoid the storm even though the Florida governor has issued an evacuation.

“I think my family has adapted to what’s going to happen this time, so I think they’ll be OK, but I’m still checking up on them still,” Turner said.

In the Midwest, people experience brutally cold winters and blizzards, but for these players, hurricanes are the biggest worry.

The players said the worst part of a hurricane is the power outages, and it forces them to be locked in the house for several days.

With the streets flooded and travel not an option, the players looked back on when big storms left them out of school for weeks.

“It was like snow days times three, but the worst thing was we had to make them up,” Bruno said.

The players reiterated that Saturday’s game will be business as usual, and following the game is when their focus will turn back to their family’s safety.

Sean Hastings and Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]