BY WALT SCHAEFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NEW RICHMOND - Thursday afternoon, David and Brenda Rogers led some prominent guests through their Market Street home here, built by Clermont County's Habitat for Humanity.
Why? Their living quarters stayed dry two months ago, while around them the Ohio River flooded neighbors' homes. Because it was built on an 8-foot-high foundation, water reached just 5ï feet into the gravel-floored basement. Three other Habitat homes also escaped significant flood damage.
''Our first floor was high and dry,'' Mr. Rogers said. ''I grew up in the East End, and I'd tell anybody living along a river to build a house this way - high up.''
In tune with nature
Don Sergent of Habitat for Humanity said the agency, which provides affordable housing to low-income families, committed to constructing houses under guidelines for building in a flood plain. That's the same advice state officials were in town to promote.
Don Anderson, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and Dale Shipley, director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, led the tour of the Rogerses' home.
The officials came to this town to launch the state's ''Smart Recovery'' - a long-term program to encourage redevelopment of communities damaged by natural disasters, such as a flood, in a way to mitigate future damage.
Mr. Anderson said he would encourage local government agencies to adopt regulations for building in flood plains, including elevating dwellings and other buildings.
New Richmond was chosen as the program's launch site because the village of 2,400 was ''not only ... among the hardest-hit, but because it had already demonstrated the benefits of 'Smart Recovery' decisions,'' Mr. Anderson said.
Mayor Jack Gooding said the village has adopted a policy whereby trailers in trailer parks must be elevated above the 100-year flood crest
New houses and trailers along with houses or trailers on private lots significantly damaged by the flood must also be elevated to the new level, he said.
Mr. Shipley also announced $2.2 million in federal grant money had just been approved for assistance in ''elevating structures'' in New Richmond, other areas of Clermont County and Anderson Township in Hamilton County.
After the tour, about 50 representatives from Ohio cities, townships, counties and agencies had a workshop at the New Richmond Community Center. Officials from federal and state agencies spoke about advice and assistance available to them for ''Smart Recovery'' programs. Officials from as far as Pike and Scioto counties attended.
Representatives from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Ohio Public Works Commission and the Ohio River Scenic Route Committee were among those attending.