Battle for the Bay

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

The fight has started in Shannon Garrett's hometown of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

The small community, which was hammered by hurricane Katrina more than two weeks ago, is battling with insurance companies - and Garrett could lose a significant amount of money.

The Edmonton Eskimo defensive back had three properties in the Gulf Coast community. His rental property - a house about two blocks from the beach - is literally gone.

The 30-foot tidal surge destroyed everything but the concrete steps.

Garrett believes insurance will cover that loss, but his two other properties, including his main home, suffered major water damage - and that is where the fight starts.

According to Garrett, the insurance companies believe that damage falls under flood insurance coverage.

"But nobody (in Bay St. Louis) has flood insurance. We are not in a flood area. We are 30 or 40 feet above sea level," explained Garrett.

Like many in his community, Garrett doesn't believe a flood caused the horrific damage to his hometown.

"It was wind driven water (from the tidal surge) from the beach. It only stayed 15 minutes and left," he continued.

Garrett believes his main home suffered at least $20,000 in water damage.

Right now, civic leaders are taking up the fight with the insurance companies.

"The mayor is fighting and the president of the United States might have to step in to try and force the insurance companies to pay," explained Garrett.

But that is not the only problem. Garrett might not be able to return to his off-season job as a bank manager.

"All of our (branches) are beachfront properties. The bank I work at - I'm pretty sure that is gone," explained Garrett. "It was a couple of blocks off the beach.

"Anything a half mile in (from the beach) is gone."

With a two-week break in the schedule next month, there is an opportunity for the starting halfback to return to his storm-ravaged hometown.


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