Insurance costs

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

Shannon Garrett is used to one-on-one battles on the football field with the best receivers in the CFL.

But now the Edmonton Eskimos' halfback has another fight on his hands: a high-stakes insurance scrap in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

One year after the devastating storm reached land over top of his hometown of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Garrett has hired a public adjustor to tackle his insurance company - because right now, he's on the hook for about $70,000 US.

That's the value remaining on Garrett's mortgage on his destroyed rental property. The insurance company is arguing the structure was destroyed by floodwater, which isn't covered under the insurance package.

But through his public adjustor, Garrett is arguing that fierce winds ripped it apart, meaning his wind insurance documents should be valid and cover the costs.

"I have a witness who actually lived in one of my rental units during the hurricane and he had to hang on to a tree for three hours until a boat came by," said the seven-year Eskimo veteran.

"There was 20 feet of water in the area - so he barely made it through the hurricane.

"He said there were dead bodies floating by everywhere.

"But he said the tornadoes actually hit my property."

If the soft-spoken 34-year-old doesn't win his insurance battle, he'll likely be stuck with a $650 US monthly mortgage bill for the next 10 years.

"They can foreclose if they want to on a piece of dirt," continued Garrett, referring to what is left of his rental property, "but I don't want to ruin my credit."

In the aftermath of the most destructive hurricane to ever hit American soil, the Mississippi College grad is also waiting for another cash settlement - but this one is from the United States government.

Floodwater bombarded Garrett's personal home in the small Gulf Coast city, causing approximately $50,000 US in damage.

"My house had 12 inches of water and it was closed up for weeks, so the mold damage was extremely bad," he recalled.

"I had to gut the house out halfway (up the) eight feet walls."

Because he did the majority of the home renovations on his own, the out-of-pocket expense was only $20,000 US, which Garrett is hoping the government will cover.

"The government only helps with personal residences," he explained.

"But with the rental (properties) - you're on your own.

"There is a grant coming out right now that if your (personal) house flooded or was destroyed (by hurricane Katrina) you can get up to $150,000 US in re-imbursements."

But on the bright side of the financial waiting game, at least he still has a house.

The storm destroyed an estimated 200,000 homes between Louisiana and Mississippi.

And one year later, 600,000 people between the two states are still displaced.

"My sister and brother are living in a (government-supplied) travel trailer," continued Garrett.


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