SIMMONS: Hurricane Ida and the battling Argonauts


They said the same thing over and over, amid words of grief and destruction: No one they knew had died. Everyone is still alive.



And they call themselves lucky when they say it.

Two teammates on the Toronto Argonauts, Dexter McCoil and Damion Jeanpiere, are living through Hurricane Ida, one text and one phone call at a time, in a country and thousands of miles from their homes under siege in Louisiana.

McCoil, the quarterback has made professional stops in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and St. Louis, said, “My God, this is hell. “We lived for days without electricity,” he said of his home and parents and the damage that became his life.

“I think the lights finally came on two days ago. A lot of people I know, from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, have been out of power for days. They have no lights, no gas, you try to get a generator and it’s hard to do. A lot of people have already evacuated and they don’t even know where they will return.



“It’s hard to stay here while this is happening because there’s nothing you can do about it. You just want to hear that everyone is fine. You want to know your mom is okay, your grandmother, your aunt, your friends, and their family, your high school boys.

“I have a son (Dexter Jr.) who turns three in October. He lives with his mother. He’s fine. Thank God he’s okay. “

There have been at least 100 deaths and $50 billion in damage since Ida started in Louisiana about 10 days ago. It was the worst storm since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 16 years ago. Jeanpiere was eight years old at the time. Don’t forget to see homes and families destroyed: And you have a certain pride and certainty in knowing that Louisianans can fight through almost anything because they fought. fought to overcome it before.



There’s damage to his parents’ home in Kenner, which is where you’ll fly to New Orleans. His grandmother’s apartment, five minutes from his house, had essentially collapsed. There’s damaged roofs at his house, auto damage, house damage, flooding, and oh yeah, there’s a football game in preparation for Friday night. Big picture, that doesn’t matter much. Small picture, it’s the distraction that Jeanpiere and McCoil need to overcome these days.

Argonauts wide receiver Damion Jeanpiere is grateful that his grandmother is okay.
Argonauts wide receiver Damion Jeanpiere is grateful that his grandmother is okay. Nelson Campana’s photo /MLSE

Jeanpiere, the recipient, was particularly close to his grandmother, Melvina Smith. They talk or text all the time. She has left Louisiana now to be with her family in Alabama. Others went to Texas. No one knows what they will return to, or when.

“You wish you could be there to help,” says Jeanpiere. “But I’m doing what I need to do here.”



“Every time I talk to her, it makes my day better. And I’m just grateful that she’s okay. “

McCoil has a business in Gonzales, not far from his hometown of Lutcher. He coaches athletes. His facility was heavily damaged by the storm. The entire back of the building was blown away. Many roofs have fallen, there is water in the house, many personal belongings have been rotted. And between the daily meetings, practices, and races of professional football, he spends his time on the phone with the insurers, himself, and everyone else in the state.

McCoil said: “Football is a resting place. “You make the call, you make sure your people are good, and you get back into the game. People are really struggling there and I’m here for them. I have a younger brother 14, a sister 20. My immediate family is very popular and I have surnames all over the state.



“I’m there for them, as much as I can, you can be here.”

“You think: ‘Why us? Why is this happening to Louisiana? ‘ Jeanpiere said. “The people here are so strong, so resilient. They have lived through a lot of this.

“In my heart I knew this was the right thing to do. I know I have to be here, this is what I want to do (professionally). Football has been my escape. It’s certainly hard when I sit down and give myself a chance to think about it. But knowing there’s nothing I can do about it, I can’t be there, just makes it harder. Instead of thinking about it, instead of watching it on TV, I just researched more movies, watched another play, put myself in it.

“At least at home everyone is regaining their strength. Lights are on. It’s something to feel good about. We need something to feel satisfied with.”



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