ORLANDO, Fla. – Giles Barnes is currently sitting in Orlando but – like much of the country – is keeping a close eye on the tragic events unfolding in the Houston area.
The veteran striker remains safely 960 miles out of harm’s way of Hurricane Harvey and the awful aftermath of the massive deluge that has hit Southeastern Texas, left at least 20 dead and made countless thousands homeless.
But the Orlando City SC star is no ordinary spectator. His home is still in Houston – where he played for the Dynamo for five seasons before a short-lived move to Vancouver last year – and he has friends, family and former teammates in the area.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Barnes still had no word about whether his house remains in one piece, or if his loved ones are in harm’s way. The Texas city has been his home since he joined the Dynamo from England’s Doncaster Rovers in 2012.
“I’ve not been able to check [the house] right now,” he admitted. “Someone was going over to check it today, but they couldn’t get into my neighborhood. It’s just a waiting game right now, but my prayers go out to everyone in Houston.
“Even though I’m here, Houston is my home. That’s where I’ve lived since I’ve been here [in America] and I still live now. I’ve got a lot of friends there, and my godson is over there as well, so a lot of friends and family that are still there. At the end of the day it is about everyone [hopefully] being safe and making the city great again.”
Barnes has remained in touch with several Dynamo players and is anxious to spread the word about all the fundraising that is going on for the victims of the flooding, and the various events that are being planned to help out.
“A few of the boys have been able to get away from the hurricane, but a few had to stay, unfortunately,” he explained. “I spoke to a couple of the old players, and Stuart Holden is actually going to be doing a fundraiser with [Dynamo club president] Chris Canetti and [former striker] Brian Ching, so I think there will be a lot of players [like me] that will want to get involved and play in that.
“JJ Watt [of the NFL’s Houston Texans] is obviously doing amazing things as well and I think there is going to be something big happening with the various franchises over there, so hopefully it’s going to help get Houston back to how it was.”
As of Wednesday, Watt’s YouCaring.com fund-raising page had pulled in $6 million, and he had set a new target of $10 million that he hoped to reach by the weekend.