When Jack and Beth Riley evacuated their harbor home for Hurricane Katrina, they expected to be back in a couple of days and clean up a little debris. They even left the cat.|
Boarded-up windows proved no match for the storm that pushed eight feet of water through their unusual home, which used to be the Ocean Springs Yacht Club. The address is 1215 Harbor Drive.
"The damage was so extensive that we had the Corps of Engineers take down the main house," said Riley. "We kept the little guest house, which was newer construction."
The Rileys bought the home six years ago from Adrian Turner and Patricia Whatley. It was built by the yacht club in 1972, and then the club moved west to the beachfront just off U.S. 90.
"We renovated and remodeled the main house with bigger windows for a beautiful view of the water," Riley said. "We had a huge deck across the water side and we couldn't get enough of that view. That's why we want to move back. It was our dream home."
The Rileys are awaiting a Small Business Administration loan. "We're not in a big hurry," he said. "If we were in a FEMA trailer, I'd be out there this morning."
They bought a house last summer on Russell Avenue to fix up and rent. They moved there after the storm. They have three grown children.
"Summer has been a big time for us with six grandchildren," said Riley. "They love the water and spent weeks with us, throwing nets."
The Rileys lost many personal items, including photos they had taken of their children and grandchildren. Jack and Beth are professional photographers. Fortunately, their business/studio received nominal damage.
"Beth lost her extensive book collection, but her pottery collection survived," he said. "A china collection I brought back from Vietnam 40 years ago also made it."
Their 34-foot boat held fast in the harbor and was just banged up a bit, Riley said.
As for their cat, Oreo, Riley located him later on a rafter. "He was mad at us, but somehow he swam out and survived," said Riley. "I bet he could tell a story."
- GARY HOLLAND