BY ANDREA TORTORA
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FALMOUTh - Residents here were finding new homes and discarding the leftovers of lost dwellings, eight days after the Licking River smothered the life of this city with water and mud.
As numbers staying in shelters diminished, American Red Cross volunteers on Sunday consolidated five shelters into one at the Pendleton County High School.
Residents continued to search the rubble of their homes, saving what they could.
Kentucky National Guardsmen bulldozed houses and hauled away the debris, making Falmouth into a life-size Monopoly game with many unimproved lots.
For those still in the shelters, the gymnasium at the high school is quickly becoming home.
Only the displaced are allowed inside the living area. Visiting hours are being enforced to instill some sense of order.
''The next step is getting people a place to stay so they can get on with their lives,'' said Brenda Booher, area Red Cross coordinator.
Retha Goins and Lula Paintek have been residents at the Southside Church of Christ since flood waters rose last Sunday.
They were getting ready Sunday to move up to the high school.
Like her neighbors, Ms. Goins, 54, has had plenty of time to talk with those sharing the shelter. She and Ms. Paintek, 53, always knew each other but were never good friends until the flood came.
''This is not the kind of way I'd like to meet my neighbors, but at least I have stronger friendships now,'' Ms. Goins said.
Whittling down to one shelter is a sign that Falmouth is on its way back, said Dave Clark, shelter manager. As early as today, the distribution of vouchers could begin, helping the displaced rent apartments.
Ms. Goins, who lost her Dickerson Street home, says she'll just start again. ''You can't get no worse than what it was.''
Throughout town, business marquees tell what Falmouth folk illustrate in their actions. At the SuperAmerica on U.S. 27: Town of faith, hope and love. At the Shell station: Thank you for your help.
Not to mention the ''Pardon our appearance while we remodel'' signs at McDonald's, Rite Aid and other shops.
Helping to distribute food, Sandy Goodman said what many couldn't.
''It's as deep a pain as a death, really. The death's already happened. Now we're in our mourning period and recovery.''