CHAPEL HILL — Larry Fedora’s focus these days is locked in on preparing his North Carolina football team for its season opening game against California on Saturday at Kenan Stadium.
But like most other Americans, he also has one eye keeping track of the epic flooding in Southeast Texas. And not just out of curiosity.
A native of Texas, Fedora has numerous relatives and friends directly affected by the torment of Hurricane Harvey, including his father, Herb, and brothers Bruce, John and Lee — who live in College Station, approximately 90 miles to the northwest of Houston.
“I’ve talked to them quite a bit through the week and it depends on who you talk to,” Fedora said at his first weekly press conference of the new season. “When you talk to my dad, who’s 82 years old, it’s ‘My garden, it’s drenched and the tomatoes are down.’ He’s more of a ‘what are you going to do about it? Just ride it out and see what happens when it’s over.’
“I’ve got friends and family that are in the Houston area that have had to evacuate, so they’re wondering what they’re going back to when they ever get to go back to it. So it’s bad for a lot of people. It really is. Unfortunately there’s just not a whole lot you can do, and I don’t know that you could have been prepared for it.”
More than 50 inches of rain have fallen in some areas of the Texas coast since Harvey made its first landfall Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm has stalled and continues to drench the area, causing massive flooding — especially in Houston.
Fedora said that he’s concerned about the situation and the effect the storm has had on his home state, adding that “our thoughts and prayers are with them.” He said, however, that he’s encouraged by the way the people there have stepped up to the challenge of responding to the disaster.
“I’ve noticed that there are a lot of volunteers from all over the country that are going down to help,” he said. “That’s good to see, that people are pulling together to help.
“In a matter of a couple days they’ve gotten more than they get in an annual rainfall and the water doesn’t have anywhere to go. We don’t know and probably won’t know all the devastation until probably another week or two weeks from now.”
In addition to Fedora, UNC has three players that are from Texas. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Elliott is from a suburb of Dallas about four hours removed from the disaster area. Freshman wide receiver Beau Corrales is from Georgetown in the central part of the state while walk-on wide receiver Mason Laurence is from San Antonio. None of the players was available Monday.