Ticats players worry as Hurricane Florence bears down on their families

By Teri Pecoskie, The Hamilton Spectator

Millions are bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence, the massive storm on a crash course with the Carolina coast — including a few in Hamilton.

At least three Tiger-Cats players have homes and family members directly in the Category 3 storm’s path. Which means they had a lot more to prepare for this week than the Calgary Stampeders.

The Spectator sat down with Mariel Cooper, Brandon Banks and Jumal Rolle to talk about the storm and the stress of managing a natural disaster 1,000 kilometres away.

Mariel Cooper (Sumter, S.C.)

Cooper said storms were rare in Sumter — the small city west of Myrtle Beach where he grew up — until a few years ago. Since then, it’s been one bad one after another.

The squall in 2016 was the worst, the defensive back said. He was away playing for the Washington Redskins and it flooded his house.

His family lost cars, clothes and, worst of all, his little brother’s stuff. He was killed in a collision a few months earlier.

Cooper’s little sister still has a tough time around water.

He’ll talk to her constantly over the next few days, by text or by Facetime. His family plans to stay put when the storm comes, he said, “and I’m the person that calms her down.”

Brandon Banks (Raleigh, N.C.)

Banks was eight years old when Hurricane Fran made landfall in North Carolina. He’ll never forget it.

“All you hear outside is just stuff cracking up and wind and alarms,” he said. “And I remember thinking to myself, ‘just please, roof, do not come off.’ ”

On Wednesday, the wide receiver got some good news — Florence, which was heading straight for Raleigh and most of his family, started to veer south.

Still, he’s trying to fly them to Hamilton. Fran was bad enough.

“I’m just happy that I’m blessed,” he said. “That I’m able, financially. I’m just happy that I’m blessed and I’m in a location where they’re able to come and we’re all not stuck in Raleigh.”

Jumal Rolle (Charlotte, N.C.)

Florence is forecast to dump more than half a foot of rain on Charlotte over the weekend, but Rolle isn’t fazed.

“I spoke to my wife,” he said. “And she said they were pretty much on the outskirts of it, so they didn’t have to vacate.”

They didn’t even cancel school, added the defensive back — much to the disappointment, probably, of his young daughter and son.

“Everything seems to be pretty much good there at home,” he said. “The news is keeping everybody put and not telling people to leave, but they are telling people to stay inside just in case anything crazy, or we take a left swing and it comes up our way.”

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