Friday, March 7, 1997
Neighbors pitch
in on cleanup

People repairing
own homes and roads

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WAMSLEY, Ohio - When Norman and Sheila Ross finished their new home near Scioto Brush Creek three years ago, they looked for flood insurance.

''They won't sell it to you,'' Mrs. Ross recalled Thursday. ''They say this is not a flood plain.''

So much for the experts, Mr. Ross grumped as he hosed away evidence of the worst flood in more than three decades in this Adams County hamlet.

After a weekend of deadly, hammering thunderstorms and flash floods, Thursday reminded locals why they love sparsely settled Appalachian foothills: brilliant sun, smog-free robin's-egg sky, and fluffy clouds pushed by a gentle wind.

It was perfect weather for cleaning up mud before it hardened, for jacking up slumping mobile homes for new foundations, and for being alive.

Wamsley, with fewer than 60 residents, possibly was the hardest hit Adams County community.

Two mobile homes were torn apart. A third lay upended in the creek. Three more survived, badly damaged.

Roberta Taylor, owner of Taylor's Grocery, was awestruck when she saw someone's porch float by.

''My God, it's the whole trailer,'' she recalled shouting in horror.

When families lost their electric power and refrigeration, Mrs. Taylor promised to feed anyone who was hungry.

Thursday, lunch guests included Melissa Unger, who tucked into homemade corn bread, wieners and kraut, pinto beans and potatoes while her husband, Mark, dried out the wiring in their nearby mobile home.

Half a mile up a hollow, George Brock used a Bobcat to clear Lower Mount Unger Road where Turkey Run, a sometimes-stream that flows past his home, covered the road with mounds of limestone.

Awesome as that was Thursday, runoff behind his house was scarier when four ''walls of water'' rushed past Saturday morning, companion Kitty Meyer said. A new, low wall diverted that flow into Turkey Run, she added with relief.

Now they faced lost logging income, Mr. Brock said, because neighbor Melvin Ward's mules can't haul local hardwoods from the forest over such sodden soil.

Closer to West Union, retired advertising consultant George Robinson recalled how Robert and David Chambers left flood-threatened homes on Ohio 348 to help him after Ohio Brush Creek inundated his jewel-like frame home with its native cherry floors.

His words reflected what many Adams County residents said as they repaired lives and homes: ''Thanks to some good neighbors, the mud's gone.''