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August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey hits home for Galveston native and Phillies rookie Nick Williams

Nine years ago, as the Phillies surged from the second straight September to overtake the New York Mets, claimed their second straight division title, and began a run that would end with a World Series parade, Nick Williams and his family averted disaster and major tragedy, too.

On Sept. 13, 2008 – five days after Williams’ 15th birthday – Hurricane Ike made landfall on Galveston, Texas, the town where he was born and raised.

His boyhood home was destroyed by the vicious storm.

“We moved out a year before that happened,” Williams said Monday afternoon, “which was crazy.”

The rookie Phillies outfielder has been glued to his phone inside the home clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park in recent days as Hurricane Harvey has delivered more than 30 inches of rain on Houston since Thursday, creating catastrophic flooding. According to the New York Times, 10 people have died as a result of the storm and there is still two feet of rain expected.

“The water is halfway (up) the streetlights,” Williams said. “You see it on TV and I keep in touch with friends and family just to see what’s going on and how bad it is or if it’s getting worse.”

Williams’ has made Dallas his offseason home in recent winters, but his parents still have a house in Galveston, which sits on the Gulf of Mexico. Williams said his parents temporarily moved in with one of his uncles because “they didn’t want to chance it.”

“I remember (with Ike) my dad’s office got hit,” said Williams, whose high school was shut down for two months. “He had mud all in there from the sand. In those situations, you have to wait it out and pray.”

Thankfully, Williams said the friends and family he’s been in contact with are safe.

“Today, I’ve messaged at least 10 people because I’ve seen them helping people and asked ‘Is that Galveston? Is that Galveston?’ And they’re like ‘No, it’s the outskirts,’” he said. “But still I have a lot of friends and family that don’t live in Galveston and it’s just crazy. My cousin yesterday told me that he begged his parents to leave. They left a couple hours before the flooding got really bad.

“It’s crazy. I’ve seen the aftermath of the storm and it ruined lives. I remember my uncle's place got destroyed and it took them a long time before their house was ready. Staying in a hotel and all those things and dealing with FEMA is a hassle. All of those things take time and it’s really sad.”

On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that the Astros upcoming home series against the Texas Rangers will be relocated from Houston’s Minute Maid Park to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Astros will be considered the home team. MLB hasn’t made a decision on Houston’s series against the New York Mets this weekend, but there’s a chance it could also be played at Tropicana Field.

MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced on Monday that they would jointly donate $1 million to various relief efforts for the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey to the state of Texas.

“I remember seeing when Ike hit, the flooding doesn’t go away either it just sits, for days,” Williams said. “They just keep you away, there’s nothing you can do about it. You just have sitting water in your house. … It's sad. I can just pray and hope for the best, that’s the only way I can help. If I was there, I’d help people evacuate, that’s the only way I could help.”

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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