When Mark and Helene Ederer dated, they talked about one day owning a beachfront home. They married, had two boys, then decided it was time to revisit that dream.
   Helene preferred something that reflected history but with modern building techniques, and she found the perfect home in a magazine. They ordered the plans for the childhood home of Jefferson Davis, bought the property at 611 East Beach Drive in Ocean Springs and in 1994 moved in.
   By modern ideas, the 3,800-square-foot house was a bit unusual in layout, with its large foyer that went off in three directions. The Ederers loved its old-feeling eccentricities, and the views were fodder for photographs.
   "We really enjoyed winter sunsets over Deer Island and the visiting pelicans. The front deck was a pleasant, covered front porch, great to sit and read the newspaper and watch boats go out fishing. We waved to our friends as they passed by.
   "We were set. Now what we have is a few columns."
   About all they found in their yard was some flatware and property. A neighbor three houses up had watched the house disappear in Katrina's relentless winds and called to tell them at 9 a.m. it was gone.
   Helene, an Ocean Springs alternative school teacher, feels it is like losing a member of the family.
   "It would have cost the same as a third baby," she said. "We scrimped and saved to get it paid off, and now we have nothing left."
   For now, the family is living in another Ocean Springs house, several miles from the beach.
   "I want to go back to the beach," she said. "I was in Bay St. Louis for Camille and I saw devastation there and it took five to seven years but the Bay came back. It'll take that here but we can all be back up and running again and everything will be OK."
   Her husband, like many who face the post-Katrina uncertainties of insurance and rebuilding regulations, vacillates about returning. But most days he's ready to do it with a five-year goal of being in a smaller house than the Davis look-alike.
   "We are water and beach people and we have to have it back," said Mark Ederer, who runs a fifth-generation netting and twine manufacturing company whose employee base also was affected.
   "We occasionally go down to 611 with our lawn chairs and watch the sunset."
- KAT BERGERON