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Braves feel for victims of hurricane

Braves feel for victims of hurricane

ATLANTA -- Julio Franco has said in the past that he doesn't enjoy watching a lot of television at home. But he, like so many others, spent the past few days watching the graphic scenes created by Hurricane Katrina.

As Franco prepared for Wednesday's doubleheader against the Nationals at Turner Field, he thought about what he'd seen, and said, "When and how are they going to be able to recover?"

Obviously, that is the question many are asking as the destruction mounts and more lives are claimed. On Wednesday, President Bush called the hurricane and its aftermath, "one of the worst national disasters in our nation's history."

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"It's just unbelievable," Franco said. "I've never seen such a thing. You've seen them in refugee camps and Afghanistan and Africa. But to see it in your homeland, in the United States, it's hard to swallow.

"I don't know how much FEMA, the Red Cross, the Coast Guard and the National Guard can do. I'm sure they want to save everybody. But the water keeps rising, and I don't know how many people they can get in time."

While immediate thoughts have to be placed on those who have been killed or rendered homeless by the destruction, there is also reason to wonder how much this will affect the nation for many years to come.

John Smoltz likens this disaster to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. That horrific event changed the nation, and this one could as well.

With every passing hour, dehydration becomes more of a concern for those who are stuck in the stagnant waters in New Orleans. The reality of mounting deaths seems more concerning than the thought of fuel shortages.

As for where the NFL's New Orleans Saints are going to play this season, that justifiably seems to be even less of a concern to most, including Smoltz.

"I think as athletes, we're always in a position to be taken care of," Smoltz said. "I can't imagine not having any communication. This could change part of America forever. I don't know if New Orleans can be rebuilt."

Fortunately, the residents of Jackson, Miss., didn't have to deal with the amount of devastation that New Orleans, Biloxi, Miss., and Gulfport, Miss., did. But they're still feeling the effects of their own problems and the tragedies that hit their region.

According to Braves assistant general manager Dayton Moore, there's a good chance the Double-A Mississippi Braves, who are based in Jackson, won't play another game this season. They were scheduled to host Carolina in a season-ending four-game series beginning Friday.

As the storm approached on Monday, the Mississippi team boarded a bus and came to Atlanta. They've spent the past two days at a hotel across the street from Turner Field. The close proximity has allowed them to spend some of their time watching Atlanta and Washington play.

Moore said the plan is for the team to leave Atlanta around 9 a.m. ET on Thursday and head back to Jackson to collect their belongings.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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