Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera has been keeping close tabs on Hurricane Irma, which left his family members without power in Puerto Rico and could affect the team’s travel plans returning from San Francisco.
The Category 5 storm skirted north of Puerto Rico on Thursday but left millions without power, including Rivera’s aunts, uncles and cousins.
“They’re fine, pretty much. The biggest thing was loss of power and loss of water for a little bit,” Rivera said. “Hopefully that turns around quickly for them.”
The Panthers have several players on their roster from the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area, where mandatory evacuations have been issued for several counties.
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Quarterback Brad Kaaya, a former University of Miami standout who joined the team this week, is from Los Angeles. But he still has an apartment in Miami, where his former roommates plan to ride out the storm in the complex, which is about 15 minutes inland.
“We should be good because it’s elevated. We’re on the fourth floor,” Kaaya said. “I’m more worried about people who are in houses and had to board up all their stuff. I’m just praying for the best and hopefully everyone makes it out fine.”
Forecasters are predicting the storm will impact the Carolinas on its current trajectory, beginning with gusty conditions Sunday. The remains of Irma are expected to bring rain and increasing winds to Charlotte by Monday morning.
The Panthers are scheduled to fly home Sunday following their opener at San Francisco, which starts at 4:25 p.m.
“We talked a little bit about it. But it sounds like we should be able to (get back), hopefully,” Rivera said. “Hopefully the weather just continues to make that right-hand turn and starts heading out to sea and dissipates.”