Photo: ZUMA Press
(CNN) — Two months ago, large swaths of Houston — America’s fourth most populous city — were swamped by Hurricane Harvey, and people were forced from their homes.
The city’s baseball team was forced to play a few home games in another state.
But the Astros returned as soon as they could, and they did something that seemed improbable just a few years ago — they kept winning games until they won the final one of the season.
On Friday, the city hosted its first World Series victory parade, celebrating an Astros’ run that has been an inspiring diversion for residents of Houston and surrounding areas. Thousands of Texans have been unable to return to their ruined houses and are still living with relatives or in motels.
“I’m so proud of the Houston Astros. I am so proud of the way that they are committed to the city of Houston,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “I am so proud of the great city of Houston, the way they’ve responded to the challenge (of rebuilding).”
Harvey’s nearly 50 inches of rain brought floodwaters that damaged about 100,000 homes.
After a brief stint in Florida at the end of August, the Astros played the rest of their home games in Minute Maid Park. With a “Houston Strong” patch on their uniforms, the Astros won 18 of 21 games before the home fans.
Two of those wins came in a dramatic and enthralling World Series, which Houston won by taking Game 7 in Los Angeles.
Tens of thousands of people poured into downtown Houston for the parade. They were warned about potential parking issues because many parking garages are still not available, CNN affiliate KTRK reported. Well, not available for cars. Many, many fans used them to look out over the parade.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee flew in from Washington on Friday morning.
“This is a great gift to Houston,” she told KTRK. “We were feeling the pain of Hurricane Harvey, and so was the nation. I think the nation is celebrating Houston’s recovery. … (The Astros) have done an enormous job for our spirits.”
The members of the newly crowned World Series champions rode atop fire trucks, waving to the big crowds as colored confetti fell upon them. Series star George Springer held up the World Series trophy, then handed it to newly engaged Carlos Correa. Josh Reddick wore a very oversized orange cowboy hat — orange being one of the team’s principal colors.
Even the team’s spark plug, the notably very shy Jose Altuve, joined teammates on a truck.
One of the team’s star pitchers said the 2.2 million city residents were part of the victory: “We weren’t playing for you guys. We were all playing together. We won this World Series together,” Dallas Keuchel said.
Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, former Astros, rode on one of the trucks with other club veterans.
The parade was to end up at City Hall, where the mayor and members of the organization were expected to make speeches at a victory rally.
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