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Little Leaguers Play in Tournament as Hurricane Nears Their Homes With PM-Hurricane Andrew,

August 26, 1992

Little Leaguers Play in Tournament as Hurricane Nears Their Homes With PM-Hurricane Andrew, Bjt

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ Residents of Lake Charles, La., traveled to Williamsport to watch their team in the Little League World Series. All week long, however, they watched Hurricane Andrew swirl toward their homes.

The team’s fans have made regular visits to pay phones outside the Little League stadium, trying to reach loved ones in their hometown on the south side of Lake Charles, within 30 miles of the Gulf of Mexico.

″We’ve called about 16 times,″ said Bob Dowden, whose 12-year-old stepson, Chris Deggans, is playing for Lake Charles in the tournament.

The Dowdens left a 4-year-old daughter with relatives in northern Louisiana. A 17-year-old son, Michael, stayed at home in Lake Charles because his high school started classes.

Dowden said he told Michael to lock up the house, board it up and go to a neighbor’s house. He delivered the message via a radio station broadcasting the games.

″We haven’t been able to get him on the phone, but I know he’s listening to the game on the radio,″ Dowden said.

Chris hit the game-winning home run for Lake Charles in a victory over South Holland, Ill. ″We’re not telling them about the storm,″ said his mother, June Dowden. ″They’re concentrating on the game.″

Lake Charles manager Steve Manuel said he doubted the youngsters on his team comprehended the power of the storm.

″They hear about it, but it’s a lot like playing in the World Series,″ he said. ″It’s great, but they don’t realize the magnitude of it.″

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