Sunday, March 9, 1997
Town trudges
through sludge

Residents shovel muck
to retrieve, toss belongings

BY ANDREA TORTORA and JANE PRENDERGAST
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FALMOUTH- Saturday brought the nicest weather Falmouth has seen since the bloated Licking River drowned the city, so residents took advantage of the contrast to keep shoveling out from under the mud.

''At least the sun is shining,'' Rosnetta Donahue said as she and friends tossed equipment out of her beauty shop on West Shelby Street.

Downtown was probably busier Saturday than it has been in years, with people packing nearly every storefront - not to purchase, but to purge.

Cleaning and discarding was the order of the day. And by the end of it, the ruins of people's livelihoods were put out to dry.

With the improvement of the weather, Falmouth residents were left to deal with another problem - dust. The blacktop on downtown streets could be seen, but it was so buried under layers of dried mud that the pavement looked more like the Wild West than Northern Kentucky in 1997. Cars kicked up grit so thick it clung to teeth and skin.

Water was running at most homes. But on some lots, there is no home, just a water pipe shooting clean, fresh water into the air and the foundation around it. Gas and phone service have been restored too, but residents hope they don't have to pay bills for the time their homes were under water.

At the Pendleton County High School, still being used as a shelter, officials tried to make the place as homey as possible by shutting reporters out of everything but the lobby. Fewer people are living there each day, but the ones who remain deserve some privacy as their nerves continue to fray, officials said.

Pendleton County Judge-executive Donald Mays said the courthouse should be up and running within a few weeks.

''We're doing one office at a time,'' he said, ''and we will restore the building.''

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