Wiped out!

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

It wasn't exactly a normal version of show and tell in the Edmonton Eskimo dressing room.

Unfortunately for defensive back Shannon Garrett, it was more of a horror show.

Garrett spent the majority of the Eskimo bye week in his hometown of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, which was practically wiped off the map by hurricane Katrina in late August.

After spending six days walking through rubble and assessing the mind-boggling damage, he returned Saturday with a huge stack of pictures of his mostly destroyed city.

And he passed those sad photos around the locker room before yesterday's practice.

"It's like a war zone," said Garrett of Bay St. Louis, which was home to nearly 7,000 people before taking an awful pounding.

The pictures show homes ripped apart from nature's ugly force and vehicles smashed from flying debris.

One photo shows a message painted on a van begging people not to loot.

"Ninety per cent of the town is completely destroyed," continued the 31-year-old Mississippi College grad, "and the 10% that wasn't destroyed took water damage."

Garrett's rental property about two blocks from the beach falls into the destroyed category. It didn't stand a chance against the nine-metre (30-foot) tidal surge and 250 kmh (160 m.p.h.) winds.

"Right now, my insurance adjustor went out and said he has to send an engineer back out to see how much damage was done by wind and how much damage was done by flood," explained Garrett.

"Of course, I don't have flood insurance, so if he says the majority of the damage is done by flood I am stuck with the bill."

That nasty bill is $60,000, the outstanding amount left on his mortgage.

Like many in Bay St. Louis, Garrett didn't pay for flood insurance because the area is "above sea level."

The lack of flood insurance is hammering Garrett in the pocketbook because the home he actually lives in during the winter was also severely damaged.

"It has to be gutted," said the 10-year CFL veteran. "I took a foot of water and (the insurance company) has told me they aren't going to pay."

Garrett's photos also show the sad remains of many treasured personal items that were soaked in the gulf water, like the football he carried to his first touchdown and several Edmonton Sun stories and pictures from his six years with the Eskimos.

To make matters worse, the bank Garrett works at during the off-season is gone, like everything else that was on or near the beach.

"Everything is gone (around the beach)," he commented.

"The beach area has no debris. All the debris was washed in a mile."

But if you look up, it is a different story.

"There is clothing in all the trees all over," he calmly said.

On the positive side, not all the offices belonging to the bank company Garrett is employed with were destroyed, meaning Garrett might be able to find some off-season work.

Regardless, if the Eskimos qualify and win the Grey Cup, the financial bonus from the CFL would help pay some reconstruction bills.


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