Originally created 09/24/98

Dolphins brace for Hurricane Georges



DAVIE, Fla. -- Lamar Thomas is taking Hurricane Georges a lot more seriously than he did Hurricane Andrew six years ago.

Back then, the Miami Dolphins wide receiver was a senior at the University of Miami, and he threw a hurricane party with a few friends. Andrew strafed South Florida with 150 mph winds.

"It was very scary, very scary," a somber Thomas said Wednesday.

With Hurricane Georges now taking aim at the Florida Keys and beyond, the Dolphins' open date could not have come at a better time. Although Thomas and a few teammates plan to stay close to home, most are heading out of town.

"Do you think I'm going to be OK? My flight leaves around 7 o'clock," linebacker Zach Thomas asked. Told Georges was forecast to hit late Thursday night, he said, "Man, that's cutting it close."

The Dolphins changed their practice schedule for the bye week, canceling Friday's workout to give the players a three-day weekend -- and a chance to get out of town.

"I'm going up to Orlando; I'm going to Disney World," linebacker Robert Jones said. "I'm going to keep a TV with me and keep an eye on the Weather Channel. If they say it's going to hit Orlando, I'll go on to Atlanta.

"What do they say it's got -- 112 mph winds? You don't even want to be in a car that's going 112 mph."

Another possibility, Jones said, would be to spend the weekend visiting his wife's family in York, Pa.

Zach Thomas said he and special-teams player Larry Izzo were planning to spend the weekend in Austin, Texas, and take in Saturday's Rice-Texas game. Izzo is a Rice alumnus.

"As long as my flight gets me out of here, I'm not going to worry about a thing," he said. "I'm just glad we're off this week. It would be hard to concentrate if we had to play here this week."

Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson has a house and boat in the Florida Keys.

"You're always concerned," he said. "But by the same token, you do what you can do and go from there."

Lamar Thomas also is staying, despite his harrowing experience during Hurricane Andrew.

Thomas and fellow receiver Chris T. Jones were among those partying at a friend's apartment when Andrew hit. It didn't take long for the light-heartedness to dissipate.

"We were treating it as a joke," Thomas said. "Unfortunately, the joke was on us."

Hurricane Andrew caused $25 billion in damage, by far the most costly storm in U.S. history. The Coral Gables area near campus was particularly hard hit. Then-Miami coach Dennis Erickson's house was among those destroyed.

Thomas' fiancee, Ebony Cooksey, and young son Chandler will visit her family in Oklahoma to wait this one out. But Thomas isn't straying far from his Aventura home, staying with a friend while the storm passes.

"I've got my chips and salsa. I've got my water. I've got my flashlight," he said. "I'm just trying to be prepared."