BY DENNIS O'CONNOR
COVINGTON - A flooded-out Latonia trailer court will close if a potential buyer for the property backs out.
Shady Shore Mobile Home Park owner Bob Diesel of Indian Hill said Wednesday night that if Covington lawyer Gailen Bridges does not buy the trailer court, he will be forced to close it immediately.
''I'm looking at a $60,000 expense to bring the electrical service in the park up to code,'' Mr. Diesel said following a community meeting Wednesday of trailer court and nearby residents at the Rosedale Baptist Church.
''Then I found out today that I have a bunch of water-pipe repair that has to be made before residents can move back in. I'm 77 years old, and I don't need to be starting over at my age. If Gailen doesn't buy (the property), I'll just have to shut the trailer court down.''
Mr. Bridges, who attended the meeting as legal counsel for Mr. Diesel, said he has a contract to buy the 11-acre site, but he would not confirm when he would make a decision. One reason Mr. Bridges said he attended the meeting was to gather more information about damage to the property and what remedies were available to help him make a decision on purchase.
Dozens of angry Shady Shore residents tried to get answers from him and anyone who spoke at the meeting, organized by the city of Covington to bring city departments and state and federal agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) together to provide information for the residents of this community, located at Rosedale Park, near Twin Oaks Golf Course.
City and FEMA representatives told residents the procedures they would need to follow in order to qualify for relief funds.
''We just want to know when we can go back to our homes,'' said resident Robert Black. ''You're not giving us any answers. There's people out here who've been suffering for weeks, and we can't get a straight answer from any of you.''
A focal point of the evening was electrical repairs to be made.
Tom Studer, city electrical inspector, told residents that electrical power would not be available in the park until electrical contractors have completed improvements that meet city code. Once the repairs are made, Mr. Studer said, the wiring will be inspected and Union Light Heat & Power will be notified that power can be turned on at the property.
But the answer to the most important question - when the work would be done - was not answered.
''I've lived here 34 years, and I want to stay here,'' said Diane Burke. ''But everything is up in the air. People are told they have to make decisions about what they want to do, but we need to know if we're even going to have a home to go to. We have to have electric to run saws and other equipment. How can we get started again without any power?''
''Honestly, I think they ought to just bulldoze the whole property,'' Mr. Black said. ''That's about what state it's in now - total chaos.''
Mr. Bridges summed up his reaction to the meeting with a sigh.
''I'm really disappointed in the way this has come out,'' he said. ''I was hoping that we would have some positive responses from residents to rebuild. But the way it sounds tonight, there's only going to be eight or 10 residents who want to return.
''In all fairness to these people, though, we are going to have an answer soon. One way or another.''
The Federal Emergency Management Agency today begins operation of a field office on the fourth floor of the Covington City Building, Seventh Street and Madison Avenue.