Wednesday, March 5, 1997
Residents prepare for worst,
remember floods of the past

The Associated Press

WARSAW, Ky. - The volunteer fire department had just left with her appliances and big pieces of furniture. Joyce Harsin stood in her wading boots, frustrated that the rising Ohio River was going to force her from her trailer.

''Didn't think I was going to have to get out,'' she said.

Her dog was at her brother's. Her two cats in the bathroom, scared to death. ''I'm afraid it's going to get my floor.''

For 12 years she lived here, along Craigs Creek, a scenic bend in the river, home to a summer camp of neat cabins and a few year-rounders like her. She was as prepared for the river as she could be. It was another unknown that worried her.

''I'll stay here as long as I can, and then I guess I'll have to get out. I don't want to go too far because I'm afraid of people coming back here. You know, looters,'' Ms. Harsin said. ''We've never had any trouble down here.''

Kentucky State Police say the flooding has caused remarkably few law enforcement problems. The swirling brown of the floodwaters and the ooze left behind in this Gallatin County town are another matter.

Ollie Perdue and his wife, Mary Lee, were in the basement of the Unity Fellowship Church outside Warsaw. Church members had finally insisted they leave their small clapboard home along the river Monday night.

''The '37 flood run us out,'' Mr. Perdue said. ''The last time we got run out was '64,'' mentioning the two floods along the Ohio by which most others are measured.

''We don't like to tear up and move. We had to,'' he said.

Tom Kinman had to yell for neighbors to rescue him when he found his trailer surrounded by water. He was visiting the church on Tuesday to get some clothing and food. Everything he had was in the trailer.

''The only thing I got out of there is this watch,'' Mr. Kinman said, treasuring a silver pocket watch. ''She bought it for our anniversary. I looked for the chain. I couldn't find the chain.''

Fred Wege was down from Hebron in Boone County, checking on a cabin he built in 1967 with his late father-in-law. The water was already lapping at the foundation.

''He said we're going to put this up to where a flood of '64 won't get it,'' Mr. Wege said. ''We're going to find out if he was right.''

At Dan's Marina, Marsha Webster was looking at a pictorial display of the river run amok - the '64 flood, the '78 ice that closed the river, the time in '67 where the pool behind the Markland Dam had to be all but emptied because of damage to the dam by runaway barges.

''We've at least had some warning here,'' she said.

Down in town, Steve Bush was putting some things in the trunk. The fire department told him he had to leave the 133-year-old house he rented along the riverfront.

He didn't think the river would rise enough to get to the house, sitting on top of a stone crawlspace.

But he cast a wary eye to a gray sky.

''If it rains again, it's through,'' Mr. Bush said.