Sunday, April 6, 1997
Falmouth helpers
stay on the job

Need still there month after flood

The Cincinnati Enquirer

FALMOUTH - Because of people like Janet Bruin, the American Red Cross is going to stick around this flood-damaged town a little longer.

The Red Cross had planned to close its Emergency Recovery Center and pull out its last volunteers Saturday, more than a month after a flood practically put this Pendleton County city under water.

But a last-minute rush of people still needing emergency assistance with such things as housing, food and furniture persuaded agency officials to keep the center open through Friday.

''It's very important for the people of Falmouth to know the Red Cross is not leaving just yet,'' said Art MacMahon, a family service coordinator with the agency.

''We had about 15 people come in (Friday),'' Mr. MacMahon said Saturday afternoon. ''Things were starting to wind down here, but that was a lot of traffic flow for one day - and it convinced us that we need to be here at least a bit longer.''

One of those people was Mrs. Bruin. She and her husband lost their West Shelby Street home and most of their belongings. They've been sleeping on the floor of a relative's apartment since the water ransacked their community.

On Friday, she was seeking some bedroom furniture. On Saturday, she received a donated bedroom set with the Red Cross' help. ''I was about to lose it yesterday,'' Mrs. Bruin said Saturday morning. ''This is great. We can finally get a good night's sleep.''

She'll move the bedroom furniture into a mobile home that will now be her home.

The Red Cross is in a one-stop, disaster-relief center serving Falmouth. The center is located in what used to be an Ameristop convenience store on U.S. 27, between a former Gold Star restaurant and what once was a Dairy Queen. The building houses officials from the Red Cross, the state of Kentucky and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) there to assist flooding victims.

FEMA and state officials will remain in Falmouth ''for quite some time'' as the town tries to rebuild, said on-site manager Joe Redmond.

And even when the Red Cross leaves the city, help is still available by calling (800) 255-7070.

The Red Cross desk at the center is being staffed by volunteer Alma Knapp of Miami, Okla. For Ms. Knapp, recently named the agency's volunteer of the year in her home state, this is the fifth disaster she's worked on for the Red Cross.

''I've worked on some tornadoes and floods, but I've never seen anything like this,'' she said.

Most of the people still coming in the center need ''the basics, a place to stay or something for their house or wherever they are staying,'' Ms. Knapp said.

Though she sees plenty of misery and despair among disaster victims, she loves volunteer work.

''It's so very rewarding. I love to help people, and nobody needs more help than the people who have had to go through something like this.''