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John DeShazier: Saints send warm thoughts to people of Houston

Payton: 'We’ll do whatever we can to help them'

Home or away, noon or prime time, east coast to west coast and all points in between, Thomas Morstead's parents – John and Isobel Morstead – are in attendance at Thomas' games. It's a ritual that began when Morstead played at Southern Methodist and has continued to this day, as he enters his ninth NFL season.

Saturday, that proved to be fortuitous.

Because while John and Isobel were watching Thomas punt for the New Orleans Saints during the team's 13-0, exhibition game victory over the Houston Texans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, their hometown of Houston, and several other cities in Texas, were being pummeled and drenched with the winds and rains that accompanied Hurricane Harvey.

As of Monday, Morstead's parents still were at his home in New Orleans, watching the natural disaster continue to wreak destruction.

"Their house supposedly is fine right now, but they can't get in the neighborhood," Morstead said Monday after practice. "Both of the entrances are flooded out.

"It's sad. I hate to compare anything to Katrina, but there are a lot more people in Houston. So it's going to be a lot of – hopefully, not the life lost that happened here – but there's just a lot more people that are going to be affected. And you really feel bad for a lot of the Katrina people that left here and went to Houston thinking, 'I'm never going to do that again.' And it's happened again.

"It's tough. Sometimes when something happens, it's a little sect of the community and everybody kind of rallies around with what they have to help out. And I think it's going to be a little tougher because everybody is going to be affected. It's going to be tough for a lot of people. Sounds like it's going to get worse in the next few days."

Indeed, weather forecasts predict that the rain totals will continue to rise, as images of rescue by boat – and pleas for assistance, via phone, radio, social media, etc. – continue to emerge from the battered areas.

"I know that (Saints owner) Mr. (Tom) Benson and the Saints, we've reached out and we'll do whatever we can to help them," Coach Sean Payton said. "Our thoughts go out to the city there and that whole region. I know they've got a ton of flooding and a lot of issues."

The Saints and the New Orleans metro area, of course, similarly dealt with hurricane-inflicted damage in August 2005, with Hurricane Katrina.

None of the current players and coaches were with the franchise during Katrina; the franchise couldn't play in the hurricane-damaged Superdome in 2005 and played its home games in San Antonio, Texas, and Baton Rouge.

Payton was hired in 2006. However, during his tenure, there have been a couple of storm-related evacuations for the Saints during that time.

The first was in 2008, when the Saints went to Indianapolis in order to prepare for the home opener on Sept. 7 because of Hurricane Gustav.

"The facility was available there and we quickly got into a routine," Payton said. "I think the larger challenge (for a football team) is not necessarily your own immediate circle or team, it's their family and all the things that go along with whether you're renting a property or you own a place that has damage.

"I think they had about a day, a 24-hour period to kind of work to get everything else settled and we flew to Indianapolis. In each case, I think…this group can travel and quickly we can get operational and as long as there's a place to practice and meet, it's the extended families that become more challenging."

Morstead said that most of his father's side of the family is in Texas.

"We've got some people inside the loop that are pretty – I mean, they'll be fine, they're safe," he said. "But the bottom floor, water is in the house. Pretty devastating stuff."

Safety Kenny Vaccaro said even though he doesn't have immediate family affected, he still is paying close attention to what's happening.

"It's real concerning," he said. "I'm from Brownwood, Texas, we're like four to five hours north of Houston. I haven't had anybody affected immediate, but we see it on TV. It's tragic what's going on. I know a lot of families are hurt by it, and hopefully we can figure out a way the Saints can help out."

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