Tuesday, September 27

Bouncing back

McNeese State assistant baseball coach Chris Fackler was mowing the field at Cowboy Diamond Tuesday. Afterwords, he raked.

It didn't matter that the outfield wall was demolished as a result of Hurricane Rita. It didn't matter that the third base dugout had partially crumbled.

"I couldn't just sit around and do nothing," Fackler said. "It was driving me crazy."

So he raked the recently cut grass, explaining that if you leave the cut grass on the field, it would kill the grass that's still growing.

"Some people are negative about this," he said while taking a break from his work. "But we'll bounce back. We'll come back from this."

For those who have found ways to defy Calcasieu Parish's "lockdown" order and return to assess damage, that's largely been the attitude. While some areas in Southwest Louisiana have been devastated, others seem to largely be spared of damage. In some places, falling trees seem to have gone out of their way to miss property.

When I was on my way into town for my first visit since Hurricane Rita struck, I was expecting the worst. I had been prepared by a trip to Slidell on the way to the Southern Mississippi-McNeese game. I had been prepared by a trip through the Mississippi Gulf Coast after I took my mother to Florida during the Rita evacuation. I saw things in Mississippi, then Lake Charles, that encouraged me.

In Mississippi, I saw towns like Biloxi, Gulfport and Long Beach coming back to life. The destruction was still visually evident, overwhelmingly so.

But businesses were open. People were home. Power was restored. And it was a mere three weeks and change since Katrina unleashed her fury.

In Lake Charles, I walked into a town where recovery was well under way. On the morning I was there, I saw an army - literally - of recovery workers, including military of all kinds (most notably, and encouragingly, now-celebrity General Russel Honore), law enforcement from across the country, and a parade of electrical workers focused on firing up some nine currently powerless grids.

It looked like a tough situation, but one well under control. I can imagine that a couple of days ago was Lake Charles's darkest hour. When I was there Tuesday, you could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The same applies to atheltics.

Right now, sports in Lake Charles are still at their low point. The beloved McNeese Cowboys football team is homeless, with light poles looking the wrong way and a "Hole" turned into a "Bowl" of water. Facilities all over town and the area are devastated.

But I see a Chris Fackler mowing grass and things start to change in my mind. There are people around that care about the fate of these teams, and there are people involved with these teams that won't let the ship sink.

Lake Charles will be back. McNeese will be back. And the sports that are played here will be just fine.

Gary Laney
American Press


Jen said...

Thanks Gary for the uplifting article. I am a displaced McNeese student staying in the Dallas Area untill I can go home. We Southwest Louisiana people are a stalwart bunch! We will recover and be even better than before!

Pam M. said...

Thanks Gary...All of your articles since Rita have been great and I promise when things get back to normal and I see you roaming the hallways of the Field House I won't give you a hard time about anything you wrote...Unless it's negative of course (lol).