BY ANDREA TORTORA
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FALMOUTH - Business owners and their supporters pledged Wednesday to work with local government to get Falmouth back on its feet.
More than 200 residents filled the Pendleton County Middle School for two hours Wednesday. They came in muddy rubber boots and work suits, taking time from their cleanup efforts to plan Falmouth's future.
''Sounds to me like our local people need to decide to take this opportunity to use these funds to build a new government or look at our other options,'' said David Wills, president of the Pendleton Federal Savings Bank.
Armed with note pads and pens, those in attendance were silent as officials from a dozen state and federal agencies explained options and what it will take to recover Falmouth's economy.
''All is not lost,'' said James Everett, Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts. ''I know you do not feel that at this point, but there are local situations where towns come back stronger than they were.''
Business owners wanted to know how much money is available to them. A buyout is one option, said Mike Lynch, hazard mitigation officer for Kentucky Disaster Emergency Services.
Low-interest loans and grants also are available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration.
''There is no answer to some of your questions,'' said Ernest Hunter, a FEMA spokesman. ''If you can just be patient, we will have a plan soon.''
That answer didn't satisfy Randy Bastin. The owner of Randy's Clothing and Footwear and the This N That Shop, Mr. Bastin is ready to take action.
''How are we going to know when to move on and reopen if we keep hearing there are other possibilities?'' he asked. ''I don't want to undertake a total remodeling job and then later on find out I should have sold out.''
Falmouth City Councilman Anthony Strong asked the residents to work with officials. Everything from relocation to construction of a flood wall was discussed.
A show of hands indicated about 40 people planned to relocate. Half that number said they would stay if given financial assistance.
What happens now is lots of meetings with merchants and local officials. Mr. Strong said a similar effort will be made with residents.
''The council has not and is not considering moving the town,'' he said.