Football players affected by Hurricane Irma

Maher Kawash, Football Reporter

One of the biggest hurricanes our country has ever seen is set to take over the coast of Florida, but for natives on the Eastern football team, it is business as usual.

“It’s nothing new to us,” Ft. Lauderdale native Dennis Turner said. “Hurricanes have been around all my life, so it’s nothing new to us. I just pray that everything will get better and that my family will fight through it.”

Ft. Lauderdale is one of the key cities in southern Florida that is expected to be in the path of the category five Hurricane Irma, but Turner said that does not change his family’s mindset as they are not leaving town.

“They’re staying home and just going to fight through it,” Turner said. “In that situation, you definitely just stock up on food and pray because that is all you can really do.”

Many Florida natives are used to the complexity of hurricane season, and that plays a factor in Turner’s family deciding to stand pat in Ft. Lauderdale.

“You can’t really go anywhere,” Turner said. “I can’t even put a number on how many hurricanes I’ve seen, and that’s why it’s nothing new for me or my family. We just keep fighting.”

Hurricane Katrina is well known as one of the most devastating storms our country has seen, and Turner said he remembers that one well.

“I know Katrina was bad for me just because we didn’t even any power for weeks,” Turner said.

Coming off a week in which he caught the game-winning touchdown pass with three seconds left to win the game, Turner said his mindset remains focused on football.

“I know my mom and my family just want me to do my thing on the field,” Turner said. “They wish the best for me, and I’ll just keep praying for them.”

Turner’s family are staying in Florida and bracing for Hurricane Irma to hit despite being in the hurricane’s path.

Turner and a few other of his teammates’ families had to brace for Hurricane Matthew during last year’s football season.

While Turner prays his family stays safe as a storm nears, one of his teammates has family members recovering from Hurricane Harvey, which ran its course through parts of Texas.

Redshirt freshman Taylon Shepard is from Brenham, Texas, and he said this was the first hurricane his family has ever gone through.

“It didn’t affect my family too much, but we had a lot of rain and trees falling everywhere,” Shepard said.

Shepard said his family did not have much time to prepare for it as it came out of nowhere, but he is just glad they are safe now.

And much like his teammate, Shepard said the hurricane did not distract him from the field as it only motivated him to go out there and do better.

Shepard and Turner get a chance to take their mind away from hurricanes and onto football Saturday as the Panthers travel to Northern Illinois University for a matchup against the Huskies.

As of Thursday night, Hurricane Irma had not hit the Florida coast yet.

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