'Pray For The Best'

If everything goes as planned, CU sophomore Reggie Joseph (pictured) will be reunited with his parents this week. The Josephs, from a suburb of New Orleans, rode out Hurricane Katrina in Baton Rouge, La., and are heading to Boulder. Teammate Thaddaeus Washington, also from the New Orleans area, won't get to see his family as soon, but is grateful they're OK.

Both Reggie Joseph and Thaddaeus Washington have been watching the updates on television about the powerful storm and its aftermath that flooded New Orleans and wiped out parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

"It's devastating," Joseph said. "A lot of my friends are homeless. They're without clothes, without their homes; I mean, they lost everything. It's bigger than what you'd imagine. Especially with me being up here, it's just now hitting me."

Joseph's immediate family is OK after evacuating their home in La Place, La., 20 miles west of New Orleans. Joseph reports that his neighborhood survived the storm and hasn't been greatly affected by flooding.

"I heard from my dad this morning," Joseph said. "As far as my little piece of the area, it didn't get hit as bad. There's a couple of light posts knocked down and trees, stuff like that. Parts of roofs. But everything else is fine. My house is OK."

Joseph said he also has extended family who live in New Orleans, who are now displaced from their homes. As far as he knows, Joseph said, they are OK.

Joseph said the town just east of La Place, Kenner, La., did not fare as well as La Place. Joseph has seen video of Kenner on the news.

"What I've seen right outside where I live, Kenner, it looks pretty bad," Joseph said. "But it's hard to identify anything else because of the water. All you can see is rooftops and things like that. I know there's a lot of chaos going on right now. From my understanding, they won't be able to get people back in (New Orleans) for like another two months, because of the (lack of) power and stuff."

He said his father told him people from the La Place area are being allowed back to their homes to check things out, but are being urged to leave after they've checked because power and drinking water are not working in the city.

Washington's home is in Marrero, La., just south across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. Washington said he didn't yet know if his home or his neighborhood was flooded like so much of New Orleans proper is.

He said he had a lengthy conversation with his parents Tuesday evening. The Washingtons evacuated Marrero Sunday and are now safe in Mississippi. Washington's uncle stayed in Marrero through the storm, but had to leave for a shelter because of flooding, Washington said.

"My family is fine, so that's the most important part," Washington said.

Washington said growing up in the New Orleans area, you learn to live with the possibility of bad flooding.

"Every time you cross over the Mississippi River or you go over Lake Pontchartrain you think about all the water and about what could happen," he said. "There's so much water surrounding you. You know it could happen."

Now that is has happened, Washington has been watching from afar.

"I just think about my friends and the people that's there," Washington said. "Some of them don't have any homes. It's going to be a struggle to get things back to OK.

"They're saying it'll be like two months before they can get all the water out. Right now, my family can't go back (to Marrero) until Tuesday. They're going to have to work hard to get New Orleans how it used to be."

Washington also said it's been difficult to keep his mind on what he's had to do in Boulder this week, but that it's become easier knowing his family is safe. Colorado is preparing to play Colorado State at Folsom Field in the Buffs' season opener on Saturday.

"It's been a challenge for me to really try to stay focused on school and football," he said. "But now knowing I don't have to think about my family drowning or something like that, it's a relief and I can focus on what I have to do here."

Still, there's a sense of helplessness Joseph and Washington are experiencing as they watch what's going on in their home state 1,400 miles away.

"I can't do anything but cross my fingers, bow my head and pray for the best from here," Joseph said.

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