By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Late Sunday night, Toby Weathersby packed up his truck. He was Houston bound, heading for his hometown to rescue his stranded grandparents, who are trapped in their North Houston home by the historic flooding following Hurricane Harvey.
He quickly thought better.
“Honestly, last night, I filled my truck up. I was fixing to be stupid. But I had to come to the realization, ‘I’ve got to leave that to the professionals.’ I wanted to leave so bad,” he said.
“At the time, I wasn’t worried about school or nothing. I was just worried about try to get there, get my people, bring them back here until everything died down.”
Weathersby, LSU’s junior starting right tackle, is one of several Tigers from the Houston area, which is currently dealing with the after-effects of Harvey. The remnants of the storm have hovered over the city, dumping 30 inches of rain in Harris County over the past 72 hours. Up to 30,000 people could be displaced from their homes, according to officials.
At least for now, Billy and Jackie Stokes – Weathersby’s grandparents – aren’t going anywhere. The couple has lived in the home for decades, and health concerns, Weathersby says, have them hell bent on sticking tight.
“Right now my concern with them is just trying to convince them to get out before it gets any worse,” he said. “You try to stay positive. You just got to keep praying. Hopefully my prayers reach over to my grandparents, so they can hear me right now trying to tell them, ‘Try to get out.’ I know people who are willing to go over and get them, but right now they’re not listening, and it’s kind of hard. It’s frustrating.”
LSU was set to kick off the 2017 season in Houston against BYU at NRG Stadium, but the flooding will all but certainly move the game elsewhere. A week ago, Weathersby was gearing up for a game in front of his hometown. Now, he’s watching from afar, knowing there’s little he can do.
“I was so excited just to come home, because I know I won’t be able to go home until December or January,” he said. “Now, I won’t be able to see home, family and friends. Wherever we move the game to, who knows, but I know my people won’t be able to make it because highways are under water.”
Weathersby said he’s checked with other teammates, like freshmen Kary Vincent, K’Lavon Chaisson, and Mannie Netherly, who hail from the Houston area, and all seemed to have accounted for their loved ones. For his part, Weathersby is counting on his experience in college football to get him through the week.
“Everyone around here knows, I don’t really show any emotion,” he said. “I’m a tough guy. Whatever’s going on inside me, I’m going to hide that and put on another face for everybody. Around here, I know people look at me as a leader, so I try to keep a positive face, keep a smile on, and be myself, even though it’s bugging me on the inside.”
He pointed to a sign he often drives by in downtown Houston that reads, “Be Somebody.” The sign, which was shown to be barely above water in a photograph Weathersby saw online, has a height indicator on it for big-rig trucks worried about overhead clearance.
It’s 17 feet above the road, and just inches above the current water levels.
Weathersby’s grandparents are about 30 minutes north of that spot, he said, but until the waters settle down, he’s not sure he’ll be able to, either.
“I know the situation,” he said. “I know the neighborhood. I know they don’t want to leave. If I was there, I would literally drag them out of there, pick them up and take them. Right now, I can’t do anything. I can just wish and pray everything will be alright.”