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Snapshots of flooded towns

March 7, 1997

Flooding along the Ohio River and other waterways reaches into scores of cities and small towns. A sampling:

FALMOUTH, Ky. _ Weary refugees got their first look at the flood damage that devastated this town of 2,700 along the Licking River. The sight of houses tossed into the middle of roads, crushed trailers packed together, piles of cars and everything covered in ankle-deep muck made many residents realize they might not have a home to come back to. Four bodies have been found _ an elderly woman in her house and a man, a woman and a 14-year-old girl pulled from two separate trailers.

WEST POINT, Ky. _ Only 45 residents remain in the town of 1,200 at the confluence of Ohio and Salt rivers, where chest-high floodwaters flowing swiftly through streets forced authorities to abandon the holdouts. Some homes were completely underwater and a trailer was tied to a tree to keep it from floating away.

UTICA, Ind. _ National Guard troops and others reinforced a 3-foot-high wall of sandbags to keep open the only remaining road into town. The wall stretched about 200 yards. Curious residents came to the water’s edge to check the damage to homes and watch railroad ties and other debris float by.

TELL CITY, Ind. _ After working through the night in an old-fashioned sandbag line, National Guard troops and local volunteers finished building a 10-foot high network of reinforcements to contain river water that was seeping under a flood wall. About 100 people have been evacuated.

LOCKPORT, Ky. _ Forty-five homes, two churches and a general store flooded in this tiny Kentucky River community of 150 people northeast of Louisville. Fearing looters, many residents decided to sleep in cars and campers instead of evacuating. The Red Cross did not arrive until Wednesday for residents stranded since Saturday. ``We’ve been without food, water, and we didn’t get our Porta-Potties until (Wednesday),″ Michelle Winters said.

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. _ Fire crews hosed the mud from streets that only two days earlier were under 6 feet of water. A block away, floodwaters from the Salt River still swamped about a dozen stores. Fran Mumford was finally able to reach her flower shop. The glass was broken out of the doors, 3 inches of water remained on the floors and the rest of the shop was in shambles.

OWENSBORO, Ky. _ Sightseers stood in awe of the water at a riverfront park, where only the tips of the utility poles were visible on the bank.

``I’ve been watching trees, whole trees out there, flying by like they’re nothing. Last night there was an RV floating down river.″ said Theresa Hendrix, hugging her son Zachary.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ Retreating floodwaters revealed the bodies of two nurses who worked together for 16 years and tried to drive home at the end of their hospital shift in Huntington, about 40 miles west of Charleston.

Flooding has damaged or destroyed an estimated 4,300 homes, 370 businesses and 78 schools and churches. Three people have died.

NEW RICHMOND, Ohio _ Rick and Cassandra Jimenez and their 6-week-old daughter, Destiny, were staying at a Red Cross shelter with others.

The couple moved south last month to escape damaging floods in a Toledo suburb and were caught unprepared.

``We went grocery shopping, and when we got back, we couldn’t get in our house,″ said Mrs. Jimenez, 37. ``We just happened to have the camcorder and a bag of diapers in the car with us.″

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. _ Residents were worried about rains this weekend as river areas turned to lakes. Daniel LaGarce’s home turned into a tiny island.

``Everybody helps each other,″ LaGarce said. ``I took orders from neighbors for groceries and boated to where my truck is parked to make a grocery haul.″