Friday, March 7, 1997
Gas leak forces cutoff
at shelter

A gas leak Thursday at the Bromley Fire Department - a temporary shelter to six homeless Kenton County flood victims and a meal site for about 40 - forced Cinergy representatives to cut off power to a gas stove.

Kenton County Police Chief Mike Browning said the leak came from an old stove, and that once a new one was found, gas service would be restored.

Throughout Northern Kentucky, fire departments, city offices, and business and civic groups are seeking donations for flood victims.

At the Eastern Campbell Fire Department, where volunteers estimated as many as 1,000 residents were affected by the flood, workers busied themselves Thursday sorting donations of food, clothing and other items.

Volunteers say what they need most are cleaning supplies, baby formula and diapers, personal hygiene items, bedding, socks and underwear.

''Down in this area, anytime a family needs help, this community pulls together to help,'' said Cathy Nelson, a Mentor native who's organizing the relief effort.

To help, call Ms. Nelson at 635-7664 or Kim Sand at 635-9564.

Covington officials ask that residents not return directly to their homes when the floods recede. Before residents will be allowed to return, the home must be checked for gas leaks.

Residents are asked to report to the command post, which will be a bus at the Value City parking lot in the 4200 block of Winston Avenue. The post will operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. beginning Friday. People will need a photo ID card and will get an identification tag to enter the zone. A shuttle to the Rosedale flood zone will be provided during those hours.

People with questions are asked to call the command post at 391-6152, 391-6089 or 391-6382.

The Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department suggests an updated tetanus shot be obtained before entering the flood area for cleanup. A representative of the department will be at the command post from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Only people with a legitimate reason to be in the flood zone will be admitted. Others could be arrested, city officials said.

Bear, a black Labrador-collie mix, prowled the high ground in view of his master's house in Lebanon Junction, whining as he saw the murky brown water lapping near the second-story windows.

''He runs back and forth. He wants to go home. He just can't figure out how. ... That's me,'' said the dog's owner, Butch Sweat, a Bullitt County magistrate and farmer.

''People around here know me as a tough cookie,'' Mr. Sweat said, his voice quavering. ''When I first saw it, I sat there and cried like a baby.''

The only way to reach Mr. Sweat's two-story house, built in 1865 and bought by him 30 years ago, is by boat. The floodwaters are as much as 15 feet deep in this town 30 miles south of Louisville.

Along the way, you pass through Paula's Pay Lake - you wouldn't know it except for the tops of trees that line its banks - and pass the First Baptist Church, where water nearly covers the sign in front.

Mr. Sweat moved his 10 horses and 90 cattle from his 25 acres before the flood but had to return one night to chase the horses back to high ground. They had gotten frightened and ran back to familiar territory, even as it was becoming submerged.

His orange-and-white cat, Sunday, so-named because Mr. Sweat found him by the road on a Sunday morning, remained at home and peered out from a second-floor window.

The water was up to the treehouse Mr. Sweat built for his son six years ago, and just below the net on the boy's basketball hoop.

''It's been upsetting to him,'' Mr. Sweat said of his son, Nicholas. ''He hasn't been able to sleep at night.''