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Ohio River Starts Receding

January 5, 1991

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Trees and telephone poles poked out from receding floodwaters along some stretches of the Ohio River on Friday, and residents began assessing the damage.

Paula Brogan stood on her porch in the city’s East End and looked at water across her back yard as a rented pump churned water out of her basement.

She and her husband, Rual, returned home New Year’s Day from visiting relatives and found 4 feet of water in the basement. The level later rose to 6 feet, ruining a furnace, washer and dryer.

Mrs. Brogan sent her three children to relatives so she and her husband could clean up. It was the worst flooding she could recall since moving in seven years ago, but she still likes the location.

″It didn’t scare me enough to make me want to move,″ she said. ″That’s what you get when you buy a house by the river. That’s the price you pay.″

The Ohio flooded riverside marinas and overran the River Downs racetrack and Coney Island amusement park east of Cincinnati as the water peaked Thursday at 57 feet, or 5 feet above flood stage. The water dropped a foot Friday and was forecast to fall to 54 feet by 7 a.m. Saturday and to 52 feet Sunday morning.

Elsewhere in Ohio, the Nation Weather Service said flood warnings were still in effect for the Scioto River in Pike and Marion counties, the St. Joseph River, the Tiffin River and Maumee River at Waterville.

The Ohio River was not expected to crest until Sunday at Evansville, Ind., where it was forecast to be about 2 feet above flood stage. Crests up to 10 feet above flood stage were expected along the lower Ohio River in extreme western Kentucky until next week, the weather service said.

Mike Callahan, a hydrologist with the weather service in Louisville, said water levels should drop rapidly where the river already has crested.

″Everything upstream of Louisville will be falling pretty good,″ he said.

In West Virginia, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on Friday began releasing water into the Ohio River from its 41 flood control reservoirs, making room for any additional rain.

The floods resulted from rains and melting snow last weekend. Rain was expected to return this weekend, but forecasters said it would not be enough to worsen the flooding.

In southwestern Indiana, Hazleton residents planned to start sandbagging Saturday to protect about 20 homes from the White River, expected to crest Sunday about 12.5 feet above flood stage, officials said. The Wabash in Vincennes was 9 feet above flood stage and rising.

An Indiana family of seven that had planned to wait out the flooding was rescued by conservation officers Friday after the Wabash surrounded their home in East Mt. Carmel and knocked out power, which they needed for a 9-year-old son’s electric feeding machine.

″We didn’t want to leave our home,″ Mary Brock said. ″Then the electricity went out and we knew we couldn’t stay, especially with Eric on the feeding machine.″

The boy was born with epedermolysis bullosa, a skin disease, and he must take supplemental feedings each night through an electric pump to his stomach, Mrs. Brock

Mrs. Brock said the Salvation Army would put them up in a motel until they could return home.

Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh has asked President Bush to declare 40 of Indiana’s 92 counties federal disaster areas.

Six inspectors from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency began examining flood damage in 10 of Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs.

In New Richmond, Ohio, a town of 2,800 people 15 miles east of Cincinnati, flooding forced evacuation of a dozen families, Police Chief Harold Kennedy said. Farther east in Ripley, a farming village of 2,200 people, the water flooded half a dozen mobile homes.

The American Red Cross put about 35 families in motels and paid to have some mobile homes towed to avoid floodwaters in southwestern Ohio and southeastern Indiana, spokesman Jerry Pape said.

In a development with a wider economic impact, Coast Guard precautions forced many barge operators to double their trips or reduce their loads.

″Where it used to cost $6,000 to move 15 barges 150 miles, now you’re paying $12,000 to get the same level,″ said Steve Frasher, vice president of operations for The Ohio River Co., a barge-operating division of Midland Enterprises.

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