The tornadoes that streaked across swaths of the Midwest over the weekend have caused millions in damage and taken American lives. It's unusual to see a cluster of twisters like this into mid-November, which makes it all the more devastating.
Turns out, the recent freaky weather events have touched college basketball. Valparaiso freshman Alec Peters is from Washington, Ill., one of the hardest-hit towns of all. An EF-4 tornado smacked the area and laid waste to much property, both residential and business. Washington's damage and recovery has been documented this week on national nightly news programs, and in the wake of the destruction, Valpo coach Bryce Drew allowed Peters to temporarily leave the team to head back home.
It's estimated approximately 500 houses in Washington were reduced to rubble.
The Northwest Indiana Times has a story on Peters' week. He was fortunate enough to have his house spared by the storm, but he's still been affected.
“I got to town and the first thing I did was change into work clothes and get in my dad's pickup truck so we could get to work,” Peters said. “I thought I knew what it would be because I looked at pictures, but until you go through it, you really have no idea what to expect. It feels like you stepped in a war zone.”
Peters was just finishing his post-game shower following Sunday's 76-72 loss to Ohio when assistant coach Roger Powell told him the news.
“My emotions are still running high from the loss and Coach Powell comes up to me with this look and I know something is immediately wrong,” Peters said. “We got my mom on the phone and I found out my family is fine, but plenty of my friends were affected. I just broke down. I didn't know what else to think or what to do.”
It was a six-hour bus ride from Athens, Ohio, back to Valpo's campus on Sunday night. The whole way, Peters was trying to learn which of his friends' homes were affected and what he could do once he arrived. According to the story, Peters doesn't know any of the perished. But by the time the team got back to school, he'd made up his mind: He had to go home.
So he did. He called the experience "tramautizing." One of his best friends lost his house. In a day, he did what he could in relief efforts before heading back to school.
Valpo is 2-2 this year and plays at Evansville Wednesday night. The 6-8 Peters should play. He's averaging 11 points and a team-best seven rebounds so far this year.