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September 12, 2005Auburn freshman defensive end Alonzo Horton's prayers have been answered.
A week after being informed that his two younger brothers had died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in addition to his aunt Hattie Wimberley, Horton learned that 8-year-old Jerry Taylor, Jr., 6-year-old Delorean Taylor and his father Jerry Taylor, Sr. have been found alive and well in Houston.
"I found last night that my brothers and daddy are safe in Houston, Texas," said a relieved Horton Monday night in Auburn. "It was a sigh of relief. I can't really explain how I felt that they are alright."
Early last week Horton found out that Wimberley had drowned in New Orleans. Days later, he was told by a cousin that he had also lost his two younger brothers. The two boys were allegedly lost when water surged into the Abramson High School gym, which was being used as a shelter, and presumed dead.
But in the confusion and mayhem that was wrought on the city of New Orleans by Katrina, correct and verifiable information has been nearly impossible to come by.
Horton was told by a cousin that his father and brothers were in the high school and everyone in the high school had died. However, Horton had another cousin, Donald Monroe, Jr. from New Orleans but hadn't called him. Sunday night he made that call and got the news he had been praying for.
"One family member told me they were at the shelter at the high school," said Horton. "They said they were in the shelter at Abramson and that all the people in Abramson had died. But something was telling me to call another one of my cousins (Monroe, Jr.) so I did last night.
"When I called him, I asked if he had heard about my brothers and my daddy not making it out of the school. He said that my cousin had lied to me because my daddy and them were right there with him. I heard that and didn't know what to say."
Horton wasn't able to speak with either of them, but said he did hear their voices in the background.
"The communication with the phone is pretty bad. I heard their voice, but the phone died out. I know they are okay," he said. "I said 'Hello daddy' and he said 'Yes' and then the phone died out."
Of all places, Horton was in Wal-Mart when he got the good news. It didn't take long for him to begin relaying the information to any of his family members who would answer their phones.
"I was in Wal Mart when I made the call. I just stopped," he said. "I started calling everybody and telling them that my brothers are alright. I was calling everybody. It was like one in the morning and I was calling everybody.
"I tried to call back and find out exactly where they are and see if I could get them to me or a way I could get to them."
Horton's next step will be re-uniting with his family, one way or the other.
"I haven't sat down with coach (Tommy) Tuberville, but I sat down with (position) coach (Terry) Price. I'm trying to see if they can get them out here and start school and do that," he said. "I can't wait to see them, can't wait to talk to them again.
"Hopefully I can get them down here to one of these games so they can see big brother go."
Tuberville was glad to put a happy ending on such a horrendous story.
"He's been real emotional. A lot of people have been trying to visit with him. You can't put yourself in his shoes," said Tuberville. "You just don't realize what he's been going through. To even go through that for a week, it's just been tearing his guts out. He's handled it pretty well. It's a great ending to this story."