When natural disasters demolish towns and cities, the true character of its people are revealed. In the case of Houston Texan JJ Watt, he is walking the walk.
When Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25, a whole region braced for impact. Two days later, with the devastation still unknown and flood waters still rising, JJ Watt set out to with a simple task, raise some money to help with the recovery.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) August 27, 2017
“What I do want to do is, I want to start a fundraiser, because I know that these recovery efforts are going to be massive,” Watt said. “I know that there are going to be a whole bunch of people we need to help get back on their feet. I know there’s going to be a lot we need to do to help rebuild.”
Watt’s initial goal was not made public, but it soon became apparent that Watt had started something big.
The initial 200k was raised in less than 2 hours.
I have now raised the goal to 500k.
Your support is phenomenal!https://t.co/SR6DmnNbyM
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) August 28, 2017
Watt’s goal of $200k, turned into $500k, which moved to $1 million. By Monday evening, Watt had reached that benchmark. 26 hours later, the goal was moved to $2 million. Watt’s determination has fueled his rise to the best defender in the league and has now been redirected to his Houston Flood Relief Fund. As of Wednesday, Watt’s relief fund has amassed over $6 million and now has set its sights on $10 million.
Each dollar, Watt said will go to the people. No overhead costs, no administration fees. The money raised will not only aid those in Houston, but also go to surrounding areas.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) August 30, 2017
Houston officials have reported at least 38 deaths related to the storm. More than 32,000 people were in shelters in Texas, and 30,000 shelter beds were available, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said at a news conference on Wednesday. The National Guard has conducted 8,500 rescues since the storm began, Governor Abbott said, and the police and firefighters in the Houston area have done a similar number.
Governor Abbott also said about 24,000 National Guard troops will soon be deployed for disaster recovery in Texas. This doesn’t take into account the volunteers from all over the country who have showed up with boats, kayaks, pontoons, anything that floats on water to help save people trapped due to the storm.
Harvey made landfall again at 4 a.m. Wednesday just west of Cameron, La., near the Texas border, the National Hurricane Center said.
“Our whole city is underwater right now but we are coming!” Port Arthur’s mayor, Derrick Freeman, said in a Facebook message overnight.
In simpler times, Watt is a man composed of inspirational quotes and selfies in log cabins, chopping wood. His image — self-made or not — is one of a tireless worker who has earned everything he has accomplished. With his dedication to helping those affected in the storm, the most cynical skeptic might change his tune and realize Watt and his persona is not an act.
The walk-on at the University of Wisconsin who Texans fans booed when drafted has never been an act. Whether its his foundation providing after-school opportunities for middle-school aged children in the community to become involved in athletics, or the weekly voluntarily cool things he does for every day people, nothing about Watt is forced, pretentious or narcissistic. This is just the latest and greatest example.
While the country watches a merciless mother nature rip away a life’s worth of belongings, Watt echoed what the rest of America is feeling, “It’s very tough to watch your city get hit by such a bad storm and not be there to help.”
“But that’s our city.”