Xavier Paul Loses Home in Hurricane

Slidell, Louisiana still under 15 feet of waterLike all his Vero Beach Dodgers teammates, Xavier Paul is busy getting ready for the upcoming Florida State League playoffs. But if his mind is often elsewhere, it's more than understandable. For his home is Slidell, Louisiana, which was squarely in the path of Hurricane Katrina.

His family, "is safe. They got out in time and went to Texas. One uncle was missing for awhile but we've heard that he's safe. He was rescued from a rooftop." And his home?

"Oh, it's gone. Everything. My dad has been able to get back there to see but there's no personal stuff or anything left. " The many trophies he won as an All-American high school player? "All gone."

Still, he philosophies, "The way I look at it ,you can replace all those things in time. The main thing is everybody is safe."

Slidell is-or -was- a town of around 25, 000 people just northeast of Lake Ponchetrain which inundated the town just as it did New Orleans when the levees didn't hold. "Slidell's under 15 feet of water now," says Xavier.

The part of all this that upsets him the most is clearly the violence that has erupted since the storm passed. "This is the greatest natural disaster in our country's history and you'd think it would be a time for all of us to pull together. I can't understand those people who have acted like some have.

"These are people that I've known all my life; that I grew up with. To think that some of them have done this sickens me. Some people are pulling the race thing but that's not true. I know New Orleans well and it's a melting pot. All people-black, white have been hurt by this"

Since telephone service to Slidell is gone, he hasn't been able to get in touch with his friends to see how they're faring. He had been slated for a short time off after the playoffs before reporting back to Dodgertown for the Instructional League. But now?

"I might go and look around but I don't have a home to go to any more. I guess I'll look for a place to live around here."

He's 20 years old and in a single evening the rest of his life has been altered forever.

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