Saturday, April 26, 1997
Falmouth returns
to housing, hope

The Cincinnati Enquirer

FALMOUTH - There will be a homecoming of sorts in Falmouth today.

About 180 residents - worried and wishful at the same time - will return to live in their city, nearly two months after flood waters from the Licking River slapped their homes to pieces.

Federal officials hope the 31 mobile trailers set up on streets named Hope, Joy and Peace just south of town will become a stable community for these residents.

''We find that once housing is taken care of, other things start to fall into place,'' said Mary Hudak, spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The 60-by-12-foot homes will reunite friends and family who have been living as far away as Hamilton, Ohio, and Richmond, Ky.

Federal and state officials have named the temporary community New Hope, but the trailers are stacked so close together that one wonders how much comfort they will provide.

Each home is built to house six people comfortably and comes completely furnished. Next to each is a gravel-lined parking space.

When residents climb the four new wooden steps leading to the door of their new homes, they'll see first their new living room, with a white-cushioned couch and chair. To the right will be the master bedroom. To the left is the kitchen, with a large oval wooden table and six matching chairs. Down the long hallway is a bathroom and two more bedrooms.

The homes mean more than a semi-permanent place to live. For people like Wanda Harvey, now living in a Newport shelter with her two children, it means not having to drive more than 30 miles each way to get her children to school.

Others will be able to keep better informed of city officials' decisions about buyouts and rebuilding.

As some of the displaced residents return, city and county officials also are beginning to plan for the future of Butler, Falmouth and Pendleton County. Judge-executive Donald Mays announced on Friday the formation of a Vision Team, whose mission will be to develop both short- and long-range visions for the area.

Made up of officials from the cities, schools and local business, the team will meet every Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Whaley Building on West Shelby Street in Falmouth. The next meeting will focus on sewer and water.

Mr. Mays hopes the final vision report will be finished and made available to the public by June.

Reporter Jane Prendergast contributed to this story.