Monday, March 3, 1997
Homeless look for shelter
Residents lose everything as water fills houses

BY ANDREA TORTORA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BUTLER - When Marianna and Pat Jordan awake this morning, they'll find themselves in the company of neighbors - asleep on thin mattresses, but warm.

It will be a vastly different scene from what the couple found before their eyes Sunday.

Knowing the waters from the Licking River and a small creek near their waterfront house on Ash Run was rising, the Jordans pulled a metal container to the farthest reaches of their property and spent Saturday night outside.

They prayed their 16-year-old son, Tom, a trumpet player in the band, was somewhere safe. He was playing Saturday at the Pendleton County High School basketball game.

''When we woke up, we could see only this much,'' Mr. Jordan said as he formed his two thumbs and index fingers into a triangle, indicating how much of his house was still above water.

Church offers food, shelter

The Jordans say they feel lucky: They and more than 90 other Pendleton County residents made it to shelter at Plum Creek Christian Church just over the county line in Campbell County.

Inside the church, 150 volunteers from the Red Cross and the church registered victims, calmed and comforted the hysterical and provided food.

With more than half of the victims being from the River Valley Nursing Home, parts of the church resembled a hospital. Other rooms had an eerie, festive air as food and drink were consumed.

Feelings of uncertainty and fear dominated emotions. Fear could also be heard in the questions asked by people looking for family members.

People flowed in and out like ebbing tides. They delivered food and cots, looked for loved ones and came for comfort.

By early evening, Brent Baker, church youth minister, was expecting the numbers needing shelter to rise.

''We plan on being here as long as families need stuff,'' Mr. Baker said.

Getting to the shelter was the tough part Sunday.

Here's how the Jordans managed: Once they saw their home of six years under water, they turned their backs and began hiking to a neighbor's home.

Mrs. Jordan, 56, was anxious. She wanted to know where son Tom was. But the Jordans kept climbing.

''I used to hike as a child, and I am not used to that anymore,'' Mrs. Jordan said as she finised dinner at the shelter. Her torn and muddy pants were testament to her journey.

At the top of the hill behind their home, the Jordans met neighbors Tim and Michelle Cobb. Waters had ripped apart the Cobbs' home.

Everything lost, even a cat

All four continued on to neighbor Gary Rapp's house. He had a boat and used it to get the group to dry land near Ky. 177. Mr. Jordan said it seemed as if they floated across three football fields.

Officials then transported the victims to Northern Elementary School. When flood waters started to encroach that facility, those needing shelter were moved farther north to the Plum Creek church.

''We lost everything, including the kitty cat,'' Mrs. Jordan said.

Shadow, a black Persian, was left behind.