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Fish River Residents Flooded Out

September 30, 1998

MARLOW, Ala. (AP) _ Joe Chapek got hit again.

For the fourth time since he moved to the banks of the Fish River in 1966, Chapek is cleaning up from muddy water that gushed in when a hurricane slammed ashore. This time it was Georges that stained his furniture brown and permeated his house with the reeking odor of dirty sweat socks.

There it was again Tuesday, that slippery mud on his floor. Cats left behind by neighbors crying for food, again. Chapek’s lawn a mucky mess. Again.

Ah, the headaches of living on the water during storm season.

Joe Chapek wouldn’t trade it for the world.

``I’ve got a pontoon boat. I’ve got the little skiff under the boat house. I’ve got 250 feet of waterfront,″ explained the Chicago native, a dirty blue towel draped around his neck and two pairs of glasses perched atop his head.

He’s also got a telephone floating in 2 inches of water on his floor and a water-marked table that proves just how high the floodwater climbed at its worst: 3 feet, give or take a little.

``I just painted that thing,″ he said, pointing to a kitchen cabinet that wasn’t nearly as white as a few days before. ``I just got a brand new fridge. That chair was floating, this one was. All this stuff was underwater.″

As bad as the flooding was this time, things weren’t nearly as bad as in July 1997, when Hurricane Danny poured 6 feet of water into Chapek’s house about 20 miles southeast of Mobile.

``Last time it was Mr. Danny, this time it was by George, or Georges, or however the hell you say it,″ he said.

Hurricanes or not, Joe Chapek isn’t giving up. He already has spent a couple thousand dollars hauling in dirt to build a little hill that is even closer to the river than his home. Someday, he’s going to drive some stilts into that hill and start a new home.

``I’ve got an octagon house I want build, looking out over everything,″ he said.

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