Monday, March 10, 1997
Key roads into city
to reopen

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Some major routes from the east into downtown will reopen in time for this morning's rush-hour traffic, reducing congestion on Interstates 275 and 471.

Eastern Avenue and a stretch of Kellogg Avenue - as well as Columbia Parkway, which reopened late last week - will be available to commuters who endured long delays during the week.

Once downtown, commuters will again have access to surface parking lots along the riverfront near Cinergy Field. Pete Rose Way is expected to open between 5 and 7 a.m. River Road also has been cleaned and opened, but the west end of Mehring Way remained under water late Sunday.

''We got a break last night (Saturday),'' Cincinnati City Manager John Shirey said Sunday. ''A lot of the water levels went down and allowed us to get to quite a few more areas than Saturday.''

That included the California neighborhood. Cleanup crews used high-powered hoses to wash about two-thirds of California streets, while city crews and National Guard members hauled away damaged furniture and household items put out by homeowners.

''The East End and California were the hardest-hit areas of the city,'' Mr. Shirey said.

As waters recede - the Ohio River was at 55.6 feet at 6 p.m. Sunday and was expected to drop to 54.5 at 7 a.m. today - cleanup crews are finding streets in relatively good condition, Mr. Shirey said.

As for private homes, ''There is an incredible amount of mud,'' he said.

City officials cautioned homeowners against trying to pump their basements too soon. They are requesting that they allow basements to drain naturally. If basements are pumped while the groundwater levels outside remain high, major structural damage could occur.

Also Sunday, the Cincinnati Water Works said drinking water is safe. For customers whose faucets were under flood water, officials advise them to run tap water for 10 minutes to flush the system.

In spite of the pace of cleanup, devastation is all around.

''I visited the Children's Museum today and, unfortunately, it's a real disaster,'' Mr. Shirey said of the Longworth Hall facility, which took on 3-4 feet of water. ''The ground floor is pretty well destroyed. Nothing could be salvaged.''