Hurricane sends Payton packing

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

Elfrid Payton wants everybody to know he's OK. And his house didn't even get flooded.

A native of Gretna, Louisiana, just west of New Orleans, the former Winnipeg Blue Bomber had to evacuate his home because of hurricane Katrina.

After spending some time in Memphis, Tenn., Payton and three of his kids wound up in Dallas, where he's living in a Budget Hotel suite, paid for by the Red Cross.

"I had a little roof damage, and my fence was knocked down, but that was basically it," Payton told The Sun yesterday. "I didn't get no water damage. Where I live at, we didn't get no water. That's 'cause we live on the west bank of New Orleans.

"Some of my friends, who live on the east bank, in New Orleans east, like (former teammate) Harold Nash's mom, I think they got a lot of damage."

Payton has visited the area since the storm, and calls the scene devastating.

"I went back home twice to get some stuff and it looks like somebody dropped a bomb down there," he said. "You thought that you'd leave and then it would calm and you'd go back home. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd basically be uprooted."

Because there's no work to be had in New Orleans, Payton will stay in Dallas indefinitely.

Second on the CFL's all-time list for quarterback sacks, he's found work driving a truck in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Tex.

"If I was a millionaire, I'd be going home," he said. "I've got to stay here and work."

Some current Blue Bombers had been concerned about Payton, because they hadn't been able to reach him since the storm.

"Let them know I'm doin' fine," he said. "Tell all the fellas and everybody I appreciate their concern.

"I appreciate you callin' and checkin' on me."


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