Q&A: Alan Faneca

PITTSBURGH – Alan Faneca has plenty on his mind these days beyond Sunday's opener. His wife and infant daughter have been with him in Pittsburgh but the rest of his family is in the New Orleans area trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina. The Steelers' All-Pro guard took some time to talk with us about it:

ALAN FANECA

How is everybody?
Everybody's OK. I'm still trying to track down a few cousins that I haven't heard from. But my house made it out pretty much great, compared to everybody else; just minor things on the outside. It's in Thibodaux, Louisiana, south of the city. I'm south and just a little bit west, and when it hooked a little bit, it really saved where I live. My dad's house needs a lot of work but the structure's still there. He lives in Mandeville, which is north of Lake Pontchartrain. He actually lives about a mile and a half from the lake on the north side. I've got several friends that have lost everything.

Did your family evacuate? Is that why they're OK?
Everybody evacuated except my dad. My dad tried to leave Sunday after it had turned into a Category 5, and pretty much couldn't get out. He tried to leave in the morning and it took him about an hour to go what normally would take about seven or eight minutes and he turned around and came back. It was getting close to the time when if you can't get somewhere, it's better to be at home instead of stuck somewhere where you're looking for shelter.

Are you angry about how things went down?
You'd like to think that supplies could've gotten to the people, who were trapped in the city, faster. The chain of command, you hear people say it's on the local government but I don't see how the local government has the ability, the money, the funds, the resources to respond to that degree. Maybe they can and they didn't do what they were supposed to do, but I don't see how that could've happened.

What are you doing? How much of your time and thoughts are down there?
I think I watched most of that Florida State-Miami game. That's really the only regular TV I've watched since the day it hit. I've been glued to it, watching MSNBC and FOX News and all those news channels pretty much all day whenever I'm watching TV.

How long were you incommunicado with the key members of your family?
I knew where everybody was, except for my dad. The hurricane hit on Monday and I talked to him around lunchtime on Thursday.

What are your thoughts on what New Orleans will do from here?
It's going to be tough. It's going to take awhile to come back. A lot of homes are going to need to be torn down. If you have that toxic water on your whole first floor, it's going to need a lot of work. It's going to take a lot of work to rebuild the city, to get people to come back. And when people come back, are they coming back to a job? How many people need to be there before jobs and commerce start back again and how does that all start flowing? It's not like you're starting out a small town and growing; you are a big town and you had all that. All these people, this is their home and how do they come back to jobs and working and starting off big instead of starting off small and growing big?

What about the Saints?
That's a tough situation. You do look at sports as a mental getaway. It's tough. The Superdome got hurt; they don't know what's going on there. They already were in financial talks with the state. When they come back, at what level do they come back? It takes corporate sponsorships and people to be there. If they do come back, it's going to take a level of commitment from the NFL to help out in that regard, too.

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