Saturday, March 02, 2002

Still feeling blessed

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Sharon Gray (in front) and daughter Shari Lonaker were nearly washed off U.S. 27 in their van.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        FALMOUTH, Ky. — There is the stuff you can replace with a few trips to the store, and there is the other stuff.

        Such as baby photos going back a half-century. And family heirlooms such as her mother's hutch. All gone, in the time it took the Licking to engulf Falmouth and leave the Gray house on Dickerson Street a disaster area.

        But today, Sharon Gray explains in one word how she feels: “Blessed.”

        This despite losing so many invaluable items five years ago, and then in October losing her husband, Raymond, at age 70. A welder in the construction industry, Mr. Gray rebuilt much of their home himself, and carefully supervised the rest.

        “We were married 24 years,” she said in a low voice. A moment later, smiling again, “But I've been blessed by the Lord. I feel very fortunate. Not lucky, that's for gamblers. Fortunate.

        Mrs. Gray said she still finds “flood mud” in corners of her garage, and the water-line four inches from her living-room ceiling is a constant reminder of the flood's toll.

        The Grays applied for a federal buyout but didn't qualify. Insurance covered the damage to their home, but not its contents. But the deeply religious Mrs. Gray, 46, maintains perspective.

        “You can go to Value City and buy a couch,” she said. “But there are more important things. We got out safe. . . .

        “Now, I can be a blessing to someone else (in future floods),” she said. “I can say, "Hey, you can get through this.' ”

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