BY ANDREA TORTORA
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FALMOUTH, Ky. - Life takes on new meaning today for Laurie and Patrick Bass: They'll listen in on the beating heart of their baby.
Three months pregnant, Mrs. Bass, 19, and her husband, 29, can't hide their joy as they talk about their first child.
''The doctors are real excited,'' Mr. Bass said as Molly, a cocker spaniel-beagle mix, and Ginger, part terrier and part Dachshund, climbed onto Mrs. Bass' shoulders.
Today's ultrasound and the Oct. 10 due date are what the Basses are living for these days.
They once had a new, two-story home on Pendleton Street with a satellite dish and a hot tub on the back porch. A vaulted ceiling lit their bedroom. A second room was being remodeled for the baby.
Now all the couple have are two George Strait T-shirts and the clothes they were wearing the night the Licking River swallowed their hopes and dreams.
Mrs. Bass said she and her husband didn't understand what the Kentucky State Police trooper was telling them as they tried to cross the U.S. 27 bridge into Falmouth close to midnight March 1.
Returned from concert
They were returning from the George Strait concert at Riverfront Coliseum.
''The trooper told us there was 6 feet of water at Dairy Queen, but we didn't know what he meant,'' Mrs. Bass said.
The trooper then took them across the bridge so they could see for themselves the waters swirling around the rooftops of Falmouth.
''I was scared to death,'' Mrs. Bass said. A friend who is like a father to Mrs. Bass and Molly and Ginger were inside the house; the dogs locked in the basement.
The Basses spent that first night and the next week living at the Pendleton County High School, working to help others
''We wanted to stay at the shelter to find out ... how to get help and loans,'' Mrs. Bass said, sitting on the couch in Greg and Michelle Barnes' living room.
Staying at the shelter paid off - it was there they received word their dogs were OK.
Someone had heard them barking in the house and broke a window to set them free. Turns out the friend staying with the Basses let the dogs out of the basement. Their footprints on first-floor walls and windows and the second-floor carpet illustrate how they survived.
The Barneses got the Basses to come live with their family of four kids at their trailer in Butler, Ky., because they were worried about their friends.
Mrs. Bass's is a high-risk pregnancy. She lost her first baby in a an April 1996 miscarriage.
Laurie Bass has spent her entire life in Pendleton County, and all of her family is there. Patrick was born in Detroit and raised in Pen
dleton. He returned to Michigan during his teen years and came back to Falmouth in 1992.
That's the year Laurie and Pat met. Her mother and his stepmother were close friends, and she was friends with Mr. Bass' stepsisters.
They started dating in 1995, after Mr. Bass' second marriage fell apart. Eighteen months ago, they married.
The home they lost in the flood was the first big thing the couple shared. It had the potential to be their dream home and held many aspects of their lives.
Few items saved
All Mrs. Bass was able to save were a few of her ceramic Cherish Teddies.
What bothers Mr. Bass the most now is having a place to live before the baby is born.
He and Mr. Barnes have been working every day on the flooded home at 401 Pendleton St. since residents were allowed back into town.
During the night, Mr. Bass goes to work at the Kahn's meat packing plant in Claryville, where he does maintenance. He won't let Laurie near the house.
She spends her days working an 11-to-9 shift at a video rental counter in Butler.
The first day they were at their house, it was slathered in mud; furniture and belongings tossed inside like a mixed salad.
By Wednesday, all that was left was the frame and a bare plywood floor. More than 10 friends helped Mr. Bass and Mr. Barnes tear out the wall and the hardwood floors, dumping everything outside.
The first guest in the Basses' bare home was James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Surveying the damage in Falmouth, Mr. Witt told Mr. Bass he should qualify for grants to rebuild his home.
But the Basses aren't sure whether they will rebuild or move to higher ground. They do know they'll stay in Pendleton County.