Rockets buy food, water, toiletries for Hurricane Ike victims
Updated: September 18, 2008, 3:42 PM ET
HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets purchased four tractor-trailers full of food, water and toiletries for victims of Hurricane Ike and players unloaded them at a distribution center Thursday.
The four trucks carried 80,000 pounds of supplies, said team spokeswoman Tracey Hughes.
Forwards Mike Harris and Chuck Hayes and guards Rafer Alston, Aaron Brooks and Luther Head carried boxes of food and orange juice. They greeted motorists who waited in long lines to get supplies in the parking lot next to the University of Houston's football stadium.
Rockets chief executive officer Tad Brown said the team tapped its relationship with Feed the Children, an international charity, to bring the trucks to Houston from Oklahoma City.
The Rockets and Feed the Children worked together three years ago during hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The charity also helped Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo with his foundation that supports efforts to improve education and quality of life for people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander started organizing the shipments on Monday night and the trucks were on the road by Wednesday afternoon, Brown said.
"It was an easy decision to do something very quickly," Brown said. "We had the infrastructure in place to do it."
Brown said the Toyota Center, built to withstand a direct hit from a Category 5 hurricane, sustained no damage from Ike. Brooks gathered seven family members, left his house and spent the night of the storm in a luxury suite.
"It seemed like the safest place to be," Brooks said.
Head, a Chicago native, flew home Sept. 11, two days before the storm hit, and returned to Houston on Monday. He saw the storm damage on his drive back from the airport.
"Trees in highways, houses with windows busted out, rooftops gone," Head said. "I was just hoping my house wasn't as bad as the things I was seeing. When I got there, I saw that I didn't have much damage, just my electricity was off. I felt fortunate, but I also felt bad for the people who lost more."
Brown said none of the Rockets were permanently displaced, but more than half of the team's staff still had no power at their homes Thursday. Power was restored at Head's house Wednesday night.
"The one thing about a hurricane or a disaster like this, it doesn't matter how much you make, it doesn't matter what profession you have, it doesn't matter if you're a pro athlete or an account executive, we're all going through the same things," Brown said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press