KY town better prepared for latest flooding

BY PJ HELLER | FALMOUTH, Ky. | February 20, 2000


FALMOUTH, Ky. (Feb. 20, 2000) -- It was just one month ago, recalls, John

Kays of Kentucky Interfaith Disaster Response, that work was finally

completed on a recovery program here in the wake of a devastating flood

which inundated the area in March 1997.

That flood three years ago left five people dead and destroyed hundreds of

homes and businesses in the town of 2,500.

This past weekend, though, as the Licking River was again pushed over its

banks by heavy rains, the town was prepared.

"We never expected to do it again this soon," said Craig Peoples, disaster

and emergency services director. "We know what we didn't know to do three

years ago.

"You never get used to it, you just get better at it," he said.

About 100 homes were evacuated Friday night and Saturday as the river, an

Ohio River tributary, began to rise. By Sunday, residents began returning

to their homes as the water began to recede after cresting eight feet above

flood stage.

There were no mandatory evacuation orders given in the town, which is

located about 35 miles southeast of Cincinnati.

In Cincinnati, meantime, the Ohio River was expected to crest on Tuesday a

foot or more above flood stage.

A shelter opened Friday night by the American Red Cross in Falmouth was

closed Saturday afternoon. Only one person used the shelter, located at a

middle school. National Guard troops and residents filled sandbags to

protect the police station and water plant, but those structures were never

threatened.

Flooding did not reach the business district of the town.

"Things are better now. The water is going down," added Hays, a

consultant with Church World Service.

Weekend flooding caused by heavy rains in Kentucky -- in some areas more

than 6 inches soaked the area-were blamed for three deaths. Gov. Paul

Patton declared five northern Kentucky countries as state disaster areas.

In addition to mitigation and planning efforts that were an outgrowth of

the 1997 Falmouth flood, officials said last year's severe drought also

lessened the severity of this weekend's flooding.

In West Virginia, Gov. Cecil Underwood declared a state of emergency in 10

counties due to heavy rain and flash floods. The severe weather was blamed

for several deaths.

Heavy rains Friday night caused severe flooding in and around Charleston

when a winter storm dropped nearly 2-1/2 inches of rain in a 24-hour

period, the National Weather Service reported.

Posted Feb. 20, 2000


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