Vikings Start Making Post-Katrina Connections

Several Vikings have started having success contacting their loved ones down south who were in the path of Hurricane Katrina. Some are still left wondering about their friends and family.

Vikings running back Mewelde Moore played his college football for the Tulane Green Wave in New Orleans, but that community was far more interested in recovering from a repeated barrage of blue waves from Hurricane Katrina over the weekend.

Moore and several of his Vikings teammates in Minnesota continue to keep their loved ones in their thoughts and prayers Wednesday.

Since the hurricane hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast this weekend, contact with those friends and relatives in the path of the storm has been slow to come for players committed to practicing in Minnesota.

Moore has a cousin attending Xavier he is concerned about. He's hoping he made it to Dallas for safety.

"He probably lost everything he had," Moore said.

"The biggest thing, I think everyone knows by now if you've been following the coverage, is New Orleans is basically a place that everybody looks at and says, ‘OK, if the levies break, there's a chance that the water's going to come in. This was the time it finally did – the levies finally went and broke. It's tragic."

Moore said he hasn't been able to actually call anyone because he still has a New Orleans phone number himself and the Sprint tower in his home phone area remains inoperable. However, he has been able to text message people for the last few days.

Defensive lineman Spencer Johnson is from Silas, Ala. That area wasn't hit as badly, but he is concerned about a cousin injured during the storm.

"Thank God everybody is doing good. There were a couple of tragedies down there," Johnson said. "A cousin of mine got in an accident. I think he was driving at the time. I don't know how he's doing. The last I heard he was in intensive care."

Johnson was able to contact his mother when she returned from a nearby shelter shortly after Katrina had passed. She told him that everybody in his immediate family was doing well. Johnson's boyhood home had a few broken windows, some trees were down on cars and shingles were off the house.

Offensive lineman Marcus Johnson, who grew up in Coffeeville, Miss., and attended the University of Mississippi, just got in contact with his mother Tuesday night.

"I've been trying to call since Sunday evening and our communication was messed up," Marcus said. "My people are doing good. The only thing that we really got was a lot of wind and rain. It wasn't as bad up north as it was down south on the coast.

"I knew my people were pretty good because I stayed up watching the news. All they pretty much talked about was down south. I've got a bunch of friends that I went to school with that were from down south in Mississippi. I feel bad for them because I've heard some terrible stuff that went on, as far of them losing their houses. It's definitely crazy down there right now."

Marcus said he has never been involved in a hurricane.

Cornerback Fred Smoot, whose high school hometown is Jackson, Miss., and also attended Ole Miss, has been through a few hurricanes.

"It's scary. It's one of the most scary things you'll ever see in your life," Smoot said. "You never know if something is going to fall on your house. You never know really what's going to happen next in a situation like that. Back in my day, we used to hop in the tub or a closet – anything that you can get to where nothing can fall on you, you can't get no glass blown on you."

Smoot's phone calls to the South started getting successful connections Tuesday. His family didn't suffer any injuries, but there was some minor property damage.

"My prayers actually just go out to everybody there. My family, a couple of their houses were hit, a couple of trees fell down, but nobody got hurt. That's really the main thing. But I heard it's real bad down there right now," he said.

Nat Dorsey, whose high school hometown is New Orleans, is in the same situation as Moore, with both players still having phone service through New Orleans.

"You can't call no 504 (New Orleans) area code numbers, so you just don't know," Dorsey said.

His younger brother has been finding out information while Nat is at practice and filling him in afterwards.

"I know they're evacuating people out of there," Dorsey said. "Hopefully everybody I was looking for will be alright."

Dorsey's family is now in Houston, but he said he still has four or five high school friends he is concerned about. He has been staying up late watching the coverage and hoping for the best.

"Everybody down there is really tight, so it's almost like another mom and another dad," he said of his friends' families.

"For some reason, some people just chose to stay. I guess some people just figured it couldn't happen to them."


  • As expected, running back Ciatrick Fason continued to practice with the first-team offense while Michael Bennett was moving decently in non-contact drills. Fason is expected to start, and he, Moe Williams, Adimchinobe Echemandu, Butchie Wallace and newly signed ReShard Lee should all see limited time Friday night in Seattle. Echemandu was limited in practice Wednesday after suffering back spasms on Tuesday.

    Moore (ankle) and Michael Bennett (neck) aren't expected to play because of injuries. Fason is also coming back from an ankle injury.

    Lee was in practice and wearing number 31. He was standing in for the scout-team defense when the offense and defense were working on separate fields. He said he doesn't know what his role will be with the team, but returning kickoffs Friday could be in the immediate plans.

  • With Smoot (knee) out for Friday, cornerback Brian Williams assumed a starting role at cornerback. Ralph Brown was the fifth defensive back and veteran Ken Irvin was in on the dime defense.

  • Wide receiver Ryan Hoag is expected to get some opportunity to return kickoffs in Friday's game.

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