When Hurricane Ike made landfall last Saturday morning along Texas and Louisiana, it was indiscriminate and varied in its method of destruction. Along the coast, entire communities were wiped out and people came away from the experience with nothing but horrific memories and the clothes on their backs.
Farther inland, people counted themselves as much more fortunate. Trees fell on houses and thousands found themselves without electricity but, for the most part, both their families and belongings were intact. Nonetheless, their lives were interrupted to a degree considered unfathomable just a few days before Ike brought its fury.
For Tomball junior wide receiver Jordan Leslie, life was good prior to the storm. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Leslie caught 52 passes last year in establishing himself as one of the top receiver prospects in the state of Texas. He was off to an even better start this season with 20 catches for 340 yards and three touchdowns in his first two games. He was excited by his 200 yard, two touchdown performance in the opener. He was receiving media guides from schools across the country.
Now Leslie and his family are having to make do without everyday conveniences, all the while using the term "lucky" to describe their situation.
"We stayed here during the storm," he said. "It was pretty windy but nothing hit the windows. We slept through most of it. It was really bad Saturday night. Sunday morning it would rain and stop and rain and stop.
"We were the lucky ones. The only thing that happened was that the fence came down. We drove around to check on family members. A lot of them had more damage than we did. A lot of trees fell down on people's houses. We were lucky."
Like many across the Houston area, Leslie and his family have no electricity but they do have a generator to help provide the basic necessities. They also have plenty of food, but he noted that it was hard to get gas because everyone rushed to a store when they became aware it was being sold. However, most of the neighborhoods around them have power and it's led to conversations between Leslie and his friends that can best be described as "hurricane smack talk."
"Everyone I talk to is fine," he said. "Most of them have electricity and they rub it in my face. Hopefully ours will be back on soon."
The situation has also made Leslie appreciate what he has to a greater degree than he ever thought possible. He misses his television and he misses his favorite show, Sportscenter. He even misses school and the time he spends with his classmates. But most of all, he misses the ability to do what most kids – regardless of whether they are eight or eighteen – want to do and that's to be active and compete.
"I really want to get out there and do something," he said. "In this week-and-a-half, I've really missed the games. It's just being able to compete. I been trying to do everything I can and compete with anyone. My brothers and I been playing every single game you can think of, like who can throw the farthest, that kind of thing."
Leslie was asked who was winning the competitions, and he laughed prior to his reply.
"Me of course," he said. "I can throw like 60 yards in the air. I used to play quarterback but I thought I was better at wide receiver. I was running a lot more than passing."
Things will start to return to normal soon as Leslie and his teammates were supposed to report to school Friday for their first practice since before the storm.
"We go back to school on Monday and we have practice this Friday," he said. "One of my coaches said to bring extra clothes because the washers aren't working (the school still had no power). Before we left last week, our coach was telling us that we were going to have practice Monday but we never got a call."
For thousands of high schoolers in southeast Texas like Leslie, little things like football practice will mean a return to their everyday lives. They will be grateful for that. They will feel "lucky" that things were not worse. Most of all, they will be kids again, doing what they enjoy again on Friday nights in the fall and in the process starting a healing process for themselves and the people around them.