Monday, March 10, 1997
Homes goes from treasures
to trash in the street

ODOT 'came in like the Army'
to help clean

The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEW RICHMOND - Village residents and business owners dug out, hosed down and cleaned up Sunday, piling shoulder-high mounds of ruined furniture and equipment along streets.

Swooping in to scoop up the soggy stacks were fleets of unexpected help - from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

''ODOT came in like the Army,'' said a muddied David Kennedy, village administrator. ''They didn't wait for the Dumpsters. They have taken charge. I never would have imagined what cooperation we've gotten. My employees are busy with their own homes.''

On the village's riverside Front Street, an assembly line of ODOT dump trucks and front-end loaders worked together to get debris out of the way. It all was dumped at ODOT's storage facility off U.S. 52, creating by mid-day a two-story-high pile of discarded couches, mattresses, refrigerators and carpet.

Electricity was turned on by Sunday in about a third of the 650 buildings that had been flooded. Some homes remained dark, mainly because of structural damage and because crews were unable to locate owners, said Mick Donovan, a field supervisor with Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co.

Inside the Hot Heads Design Team beauty shop on Front Street, owner Lee Ann Hodges found a positive amid the muck. At least her plate-glass windows were intact; many businesses on the opposite side of Front Street lost windows to the rushing river.

A high-water mark 46 inches high encircled her shop. The pile of tossed stuff outside her front door included ruined styling chairs, work stations and drying chairs.

She'll reopen her 12-year-old business as soon as the landlord replaces drywall and carpeting.

''Come back here in a week, and it will look like a new town.''