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Coach pledges to help rebuild New Orleans

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Ron Washington's two homes in New
Orleans are under water, destroyed by flooding from Hurricane
Katrina. But that's not enough to make Washington abandon his
hometown.

The Oakland Athletics' third-base coach rejoined the team on
Friday for a weekend series against the Texas Rangers. He spent the
three previous days in a shelter and in temporary housing in
Alabama with his wife, Gerry, and 26 other family members who
evacuated New Orleans a day before the hurricane struck the Gulf
Coast.

"I'm glad to be back," Washington said. "Baseball's always
been my life. But it was a humbling experience. I wouldn't wish
staying in a shelter on anyone."

Washington vows that when the A's end their season, he will be
involved in efforts to rebuild New Orleans, and he disagrees with
those who say that parts of the city should be razed and relocated
to higher ground.

"That's easy for politicians to say -- bulldoze it because it's
not their home," Washington said. "If they decide to bring New
Orleans back, I want to be a part of it. That's the only place I've
ever known as home. I've never thought about living anyplace else.

"Now if they decide that New Orleans is not salvageable, then I
have to look someplace else. But it's my home and I want to go back
and do as much as I can to help it come back."

No family members were injured by the storm, but Washington said
most of their possessions were lost.

His niece had been employed by a mortgage company in New
Orleans, which arranged for the extended family to move into three
houses in Alabama, where they can live rent-free for three months.

Washington said that when the season is over, he'll go to
Alabama and bring his wife and family back to Louisiana, as close
to New Orleans as possible.

"All your personal stuff is gone, but they're living and that's
what's most important," said Washington, who played in the majors
for all or parts of 10 seasons and has been an A's coach for 10
years. "I'm not going to rely on anybody to do anything for me.
I'm going to do what I've always done, take care of business."

Some of Washington's relatives already have found employment in
Alabama, and some have indicated they might stay.

"They're not the kind of people who are going to sit around and
take charity," Washington said. "The people in the community ...
took a liking to them so they all have jobs. But when the season is
over, I'm going to get my wife and whoever wants to come back and
get close to New Orleans when they do allow us to come back in
there."

Washington thanked the A's, fans and Major League Baseball for
their charitable efforts.

"The Oakland A's family has been good to my family,"
Washington said. "Fans have reached out and tried to help.
Ballplayers have reached out to help. I'm overwhelmed by the love
and caring that everyone's showing. I'll be glad when we can get
back to New Orleans being New Orleans."