Monday, March 24, 1997
City pitches in
to bail out neighbors

Williamstown residents
help flood victims

The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILLIAMSTOWN - When floodwaters began swallowing Falmouth, Cynthiana, Warsaw and other cities, local cable employees began a project to document the Flood of '97.

''We have it when it was flooded and when the water receded,'' Williamstown Street Superintendent Bill Marksberry said. ''We want to show the people here so they realize how bad it is.''

Many Grant County residents already know.

Hundreds volunteered their time and resources to help people in neighboring communities.

''When you've got counties around you and all of them with major problems, we were really the only ones left,'' Mr. Marksberry said.

Almost immediately the city building was turned over to the state Disaster Emergency Services for a dispatching system.

The firehouse became ''donation central,'' and volunteers poured in.

''We went in five or six different directions,'' Fire Chief Mark Courtney said. ''People just came with pickup trucks here and went wherever they were needed to go.''

Supplies and water were taken to Butler, Falmouth, Cynthiana, Carroll County, Warsaw, Sparta, Monterey and dozens of other flood-plagued locations.

Operations out of the firehouse went around the clock for seven days straight.

Williamstown resident Jay O. Whitaker, 58, was one of the volunteers.

''I'm a cardiac patient, and all I've got is time,'' Mr. Whitaker said. ''Anywhere they would load up that little van of mine to go I would drive it.''

He said the efforts he saw in Grant County make him proud to live there. ''There's a lot more people that done a lot more than I did that will never be recognized.''

And even though it's been four weeks since the floods first struck, the help hasn't stopped.

Members of many Grant County churches take turns preparing meals and socializing with the 21 mentally challenged residents of Falmouth's Bennett Personal Care Home who have been living at the Williamstown Christian Church since March 3.

''It's not like home, and I miss my things, but this is nice,'' Linda Treadway said.

Meals on Wheels brings breakfast and lunch, and a different church cooks dinner each night.

''The whole community is giving them everything we can,'' Williamstown Christian member Cindy McGough said. ''We'll miss them when they leave.''