Fifteen years ago Howard and Gloria Harlan made a brief summer trip from the Chicago area to check out Biloxi. They ended up staying two weeks and enjoyed the Coast so much they rented a timeshare for the winter. |
The Harlans liked the timeshare so much they bought it in 1992, first using it as a winter retreat, then retiring there.
Edgewater Oak, 2562 Beach Blvd., was built in 1982. The first buyers were investors who stayed occasionally but rented year-round to tourists. That mission soon changed as older couples like the Harlans bought most of the 18 units on three brick floors fronted by a pool and a great view.
"Most of us were seniors and we'd all planned to live there the rest of our lives," said Gloria, who is now widowed. "With the closeness of shopping, movie theaters and public transit, we figured we could make it as we got older and have the best of all worlds. We were all very close.
"We're lucky no one stayed there for Katrina. I know I thought I'd be back the next day, so I didn't pack all those memories into the car. I lived on the third floor and thought some water might get into the first floor but never dreamed the building would be gone."
The palm tree in front of the pool and the ancient oak, for which the condominium was named, survived, but the strong building - Gloria never heard her neighbors through the walls - crumbled. She found her sofa blocks away under a park tree, but that was about all.
"The Edgewater Oak Condominium Association had flood and wind insurance on the building, so we were lucky that way. But there wasn't enough to rebuy anything with an ocean view at today's prices. Katrina ended a nice dream of retirement for most of us. Of the 18 families only three are still in town, the rest scattered across the country."
All owners must agree to sell or keep the three-fourths acre and there is yet no agreement.
- KAT BERGERON