Cleanup begins for some flood victims, while others await the worst
Mar. 04, 1997
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Muddy rivers slowly retreated to their banks in parts of Kentucky, revealing acres of muck-covered destruction, while people along the Ohio River braced for a record-setting crest.
Two more bodies were found Monday as floodwaters receded, raising the death toll to 11 in Kentucky. In all, 48 deaths were blamed on weekend storms, flooding and tornadoes in the region, including 25 killed by twisters in Arkansas.
The flooding, which followed record downpours Friday night to Sunday morning, forced thousands of people from their homes in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia.
Much of Falmouth, about 30 miles southeast of Cincinnati, remained virtually covered Monday by the Licking River, which crested at 52 feet Sunday night, nearly 24 feet above flood stage.
Dr. Paul Pack spent the day pushing brownish muck left by the flood out of his veterinary clinic along Stoner Creek in Paris, about 10 miles northeast of Lexington.
``I think this caught everyone by surprise because of how fast it came,'' he said.
Jimmy Williams could rescue only his dog, Sandy, and his bird, A.J., before floodwaters inundated his Falmouth home.
``We lost everything we had,'' Williams, 57, said. ``It came up in '64, but nothing like this.''
The Ohio River, which forms Kentucky's 665-mile long northern border, was headed for its highest levels in more than 30 years as the weekend runoff flowed downstream.
Officials said all 45 flood gates will be in place by the time the river crests Friday in Louisville. They will be reinforced with a total of 120,000 sandbags.
Residents of the Lake Dreamland neighborhood in Jefferson County were moving out Monday night in anticipation of flooding. Family and friends helped residents load furniture and personal belongings into pickup trucks.
``If folks come a knocking on your door saying it's time to go, it's time to go,'' said local Disaster Emergency Services director Chuck Bartlett.
Five deaths in Ohio were blamed on the weather, five people were killed in Tennessee by floods and tornadoes, and one flood death was reported in West Virginia. Mississippi had one tornado death.
More evacuations were possible in Indiana today.
``We figure all this will be under water,'' Adam Nifong said as he emptied his garage in Utica, across the river from Louisville. ``We're not waiting around for it to get worse.''
The Ohio River topped 60 feet in downtown Cincinnati, hiding the riverbanks and encircling Cinergy Field, the old Riverfront Stadium where the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals play.
Police said they could not get into the stadium to see if water had made it to the playing field.
In New Richmond, Ohio, families frantically grabbed belongings and evacuated Monday as the river surged into the heart of town. Dozens took refuge at a high school, one of nine American Red Cross shelters opened in southern Ohio.
``I think every toy of ours is floating in the water,'' said 6-year-old Jessyca Colonel.
In Adams County, meanwhile, residents picked through the few possessions spared by the floods.
Hazel and Roy Goodwin found their trailer home smashed. All they could salvage Monday was a coffee mug, two framed pictures, a crystal dish and a clock.
``We didn't have much to begin with. Now we don't have a thing we can call our own,'' Mrs. Goodwin said.