Hurricane Katrina and the Lions

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

Hurricane Katrina's devastation is on the minds of several B.C. Lions.

Linebacker Barrin Simpson, who played at Mississippi State University, said friends of his wife Tammie survived, but lost all they owned in New Orleans.

"Right now it's growing pains, trying to get back on their feet," Simpson said.

Wide receiver Ryan Thelwell played at the Louisiana Superdome in 2000 for the New Orleans Saints. The site of several Super Bowls was a last-chance shelter and sustained considerable roof damage and flooding.

"You never think you'll see something like that," Thelwell said. "I actually heard the first time I went to New Orleans that something like that could happen sometime."

Quarterback Jarious Jackson, a native of Tupelo, Miss., said the disaster created "a hole in our country."

"It's going to take everybody doing their part all across the U.S. to get New Orleans back to the top," Jackson said.

Head coach and general manager Wally Buono said sports could help lift survivors' spirits. It did so in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and 1970's October Crisis when martial law was declared after separatists terrorized Quebec.

"Sports always brings people together," Buono said. "For a couple of hours you can forget about all your problems."

Lions' management is planning a fundraising drive at the Sept. 17 home game against the Montreal Alouettes. Als' kick returner Ezra Landry missed last Friday's game because he returned to New Orleans where he lost his house and barber shop. His parents fled safely to Dallas, but Landry went in search of friends and relatives. Simpson, an ordained minister, said those who can't afford to donate could offer their prayers.


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