Sunday, March 9, 1997
Residents keep sense of humor
'My wife's a better housekeeper than this'

BY WALT SCHAEFER,
GUY BOULTON
and KRISTEN DELGUZZI
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Richard Craig pulled a four-wheel-drive Chevrolet up to his porch Saturday - the chrome hub caps twinkling inches beneath the muddy water.

He waded out of the truck at his Rhode Street home in California along the Ohio River east of Cincinnati.

''Now I want you to know,'' Mr. Craig said, snickering as his boots left imprints in the waterlogged carpet, ''my wife's a better housekeeper than this.''

A little later, Thelma and Cecil Johnson returned to the end of Rhode Street paddling an aluminum boat. ''First time we've ever been out alone for a romantic boat ride,'' Mr. Johnson said.

Laughter was a part of coping Saturday as residents of eastern Cincinnati neighborhoods began returning to their homes to view what wrath the river wrought.

In the East End, the city sent in backhoes, garbage trucks and more than a dozen dump trucks Saturday to hose down streets, haul away debris, and help with other cleanup chores.

Cleophus Kelley, coordinator for the East End cleanup, estimated 150 city employees, from highway, sewer and sanitation departments, were working Saturday.

He estimated the cleanup would take more than two weeks.

Kemper ''Freddy'' White, who lives on Setchell Street in the East End, climbed into hip waders and returned to his home Saturday.

Standing in his dining room, he pointed to what was new carpet. He talked about having recently put up new walls.

''You work and think you're accomplishing something,'' Mr. White said, ''and overnight, boom, it's lost.''

In many cases, residents are filling large trash bins faster than the city can empty them.

Those who cannot find bins should pile the trash at the curb - but not in the street. ''Roving refuse trucks will pick up what they find,'' Mr. Shirey said.

The debris should not be burned.

Residents who discover potentially hazardous debris - particularly unidentified drums or tank-like containers - should call 911, city officials said.

Cincinnati officials also are cautioning residents about the dangers of using gas, kerosene and diesel-powered equipment indoors because of the potential for carbon-monoxide poisoning. Many are using such equipment to pump standing water from their basements.

He noted, however, that pumping water is not always the right approach: Sucking the standing water out too fast could cause structural damage.

The city also has been lending hoses and other cleaning equipment. Because others still need them, residents are asked to return them as quickly as possible. To arrange a return or supplies, call Public Works at 591-6000.

In California, Cincinnati Police Sgt. Dave Turner said he's been in the neighborhood since Tuesday. ''The people are doing pretty well,'' he said. ''There are a few tempers here and there; but what do you expect after being out of their houses for almost a week? Who can blame them?''

Sgt. Turner said police have not received any reports of looting and were being vigilant to spot it. Police Officer Eric Franz, California's neighborhood beat cop, said the biggest problem has been sightseers. ''We turned away 1,000 of them (Friday). Tell them to please stay away.''

At the American Red Cross shelter set up at the California Community Center on Saturday, children squealed with delight and headed for a school bus waiting to take them to Discovery Zone - a play center in Forest Park - a free outing donated by the business, said Red Cross representative Marlene Trapp.

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