Driving through the streets of residential Cypress, it’s clear the recovery efforts have only just begun from Hurricane Harvey. Outside nearly every house there is a pile of ruined couches, torn-up carpets and whatever else didn’t survive the flood.
But where many saw destruction with the places and people who are clearly just beginning to return to some sense of normalcy, one saw refuge.
Former NFL star and Texas Southern alumnus Ken Burrough was at his home in Jacksonville, Fla., watching the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in the place where he spent most of his life when the news came that a similar devastation was coming his way.
“My kids and friends from Texas Southern live here in Texas so I’m watching the TV wondering how they’re doing,” Burrough said. “A week later, everyone calls me telling me to get out.”
Burrough and his sister considered all options including driving up to Atlanta, flying somewhere else or just staying and riding the hurricane out. Ultimately, they decided to fly to Houston just a day before Irma made landfall south of Jacksonville.
He fled Florida with his sibling, whose sorority sister invited the two to stay at their house in Cypress until Irma passed. For Burrough, who not only attended college in the area but also played for the Houston Oilers for 11 seasons, this was the best place for him to go.
“We had the chance to come back to the city I finished college in, that I played for the Oilers in and we knew these people would take us in,” Burrough said. “I’m still gung-ho for Texas, even in Sealy I remember hearing about fresh beef for the first time and that is some of the best steak I’ve had.”
Being from Jacksonville but having such heavy ties to Houston, Burrough noticed something peculiar when watching the first week of the NFL season. “Guess who the Texans played? The Jacksonville Jaguars,” Burrough said. “I can’t lose because I love both those places so I had a chance to really pull for both teams.”
With both cities now through the storm and recovery underway, Burrough and his sister are following suit. The two were able to return home on Sept. 14 after the flooding had subsided enough to be safe.
Burrough said his neighbors and friends who rode out the hurricane in Florida told him his house was in pretty good shape. Through the entire ordeal, Burrough said it was his faith that kept him in a positive mindset.
“I’m not the biggest preacher but I truly believe in God,” Burrough said. “He did a lot for us to get out of Florida.”
The former wide receiver said he will return to Texas in a few weeks for Texas Southern events and said he would probably get some fresh beef in Sealy.