Robert Guentz never imagined he would call the 400 block of Howard Avenue home during his time as a Biloxi police officer in the 1980s. But when he saw this turn-of-the-century home sitting on a spacious acre of land, he quickly changed his mind.
   Even before Katrina dumped nearly three feet of water in his living room, Guentz saw positive change in the area.
   "We knew the neighborhood was coming up," he said. "People were trying to turn these old houses around. There was a real variety of people here, a lot of versatility. It was an interesting neighborhood."
   Guentz has spent the last year repairing his house. Samaritan First, a Methodist recovery group with volunteers still in South Mississippi, spent almost three days gutting his house and preparing it for remodeling. Since then, though much work has been done, fraudulent contractors, late insurance payments and a slow MDA grant have hindered the exodus from the FEMA trailer.
   "I'm so close to moving back in," he said. "I can taste it. There's very few of us starting to build back. There's maybe three or four people on Ahern, but for the most part, it's like living out in the country here. There's very little new building going on, and it's a lot quieter around here. I never imagined you'd be able to stand on Howard Avenue and be able to look down to the beach and north to the railroad tracks."
   Guentz has some minor trim work, re-painting of the back deck, and some frustrating electrical work remaining before he can finally call his 1,850 square feet home again.
THE SUN HERALD