BY LEAH BETH WARD and PERRY BROTHERS
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Frank Albi has unpleasant news for riverfront businesses that fear losing records to flooding: ''It's probably too late.''
Mr. Albi, president of Business Information Storage Inc. (BIS), said his company has received several ''rescue'' calls from businesses looking to move paper and computer records to higher ground.
But only Cincinnati Bulk Terminal on Mehring Way called soon enough, he said. On Monday, BIS employees saved 14 boxes of records. But by the time the call came from another riverfront business, police had prohibited access.
''Invariably, a lot of people are going to go back to their offices and find devastation,'' he said.
The Ohio River continued to overtake Tristate businesses Wednesday, preventing river and rail transport, making restoration of power and phone service difficult, and forcing companies that had hoped to wait out the waters to move.
Caruso Ciresi Inc. reported ''business as usual'' at its Pete Rose Way warehouse Monday. But by Tuesday afternoon, the river had risen to within 6 inches of the warehouse floor and the company had fled to backup space in the Tri-County area.
Business disaster loans are available for physical damage and economic loss, said Don Waite, spokesman for the U.S. Small Business Administration's disaster assistance program in Atlanta, which administers the program for the Cincinnati area.
The maximum amount available under either program is $1.5 million at an interest rate of 4 percent. Terms can extend 30 years.
Power failures and shutoffs continued. Cincinnati Bell Telephone and Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. have each cut off service to about 3,000 customers.
Rick Benken, director of Cincinnati Bell's network operations center, said the hardest-hit area was Falmouth, Ky., where flooding knocked out a central office serving 2,600 customers. Cincinnati Bell ran a fiber-optic cable to Pendleton County High School, providing 100 lines.
CG&E has had to cut off about 900 electric customers and about 2,000 gas customers.
Steve Brash, CG&E spokesman, said crews are ready to re-enter Falmouth if conditions permit, to turn off gas service to parts of the town that were not shut off before flooding.
Despite some flooding at CG&E's Zimmer and Miami Fort power plants, those facilities are operating, he said.
Reporter Mike Boyer contributed to his story.