Monday, June 9, 1997
Dream washed away,
so couple moves on

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Laurie and Patrick Bass stand in their flood-damaged home at 401 Pendleton St. in Falmouth. They are building a new home in Butler.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
BUTLER - To Laurie and Patrick Bass, the past three months seem like forever: Forever since they've had their own home, their own space, their own lives.

They lost their Falmouth home in the March 1 flood, the dream house they had lived in for only three months. Since then, the couple have been living on thoughts of their coming baby, struggling to get a place of their own before their baby is born.

They should be able to meet their October deadline.

"We've found a house out on (Ky.) 609 in Butler, and we hope to close in a month," said Mr. Bass, 29.

The new home means a new life for this couple. By deciding to leave Falmouth, they're throwing away their dreams of starting a family in the community both grew up in, deserting what they thought would become their dream home. The Basses will chase new dreams on four acres in the Pendleton County country side, high above the flood plain.

The journey to their new life hasn't been an easy one.

The Basses were just settling into their new, two-story home on Pendleton Street when the floods hit. The home had a satellite dish and a hot tub on the back porch. A vaulted ceiling lit their bedroom. A second room was being remodeled for the baby.

Now the house stands forlorn, grass waist-high in the front yard, each window and doorway offering a glimpse into the skeleton of the structure. Inside the house is nothing but studs, the damaged walls and floors torn away in the clean up process.

It's the only one on the street in such a dilapidated state. The Basses were waiting to see if they qualified for a federal buyout. They didn't.

"I think our neighbors are probably mad at us, leaving it that way," said Mrs. Bass, 19. "But to be honest with you, I was just scared this last rain, with the water up. I really don't want to go back."

Like hundreds of residents in Falmouth, the Basses are selling their flooded-damaged home at a loss, to someone willing to build it back into shape.

Mr. Bass didn't want to give the place up. "He loved this house," Mrs. Bass said. It was the home he hoped to raise a family in. After weeks of thought, Mr. Bass agreed with his wife: They should take advantage of the situation and get out while he could, applying for loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to help make ends meet.

The ranch home they plan to buy in Butler has everything they wanted - three bedrooms, living room, dining room, computer room, space for Mr. Bass' hunting gear and mounted catches and a garage. "The only thing I don't like about the house is that it doesn't have a basement," Mrs. Bass said. "I keep telling Pat he'll have to build me a tornado shelter."

Until the closings are completed, the Basses are staying with Mr. Bass' parents in their Butler log home.

It's the third place they have lived in since the flood.

First it was the high school shelter. Then the Basses shared a trailer with a family of six.

"We didn't want to put ourselves on anybody," Mrs. Bass said. "We've been pretty adamant about being independent ever since we got together. It's been hard to come stay here, but it's been wonderful that everyone offered."

The couple is working hard to save money for their second house. Mr. Bass works third shift at Kahn's meat packing plant in Claryville, where he does maintenance. Mrs. Bass works part time at a Butler video store, manning the 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. shift a few days a week. When she's not at work she baby-sits her niece, Taylor, 1.

She calls it practice for caring for her own baby. She and her husband spoil Taylor, taking her to McDonald's for lunch and feeding her plenty of cookies.

Mrs. Bass said the next four months until the baby comes seem like they'll take forever, too.

"I'm so impatient, I can't wait to have the baby," she says as she sits in her father-in-law's living room chair, keeping an eye on Taylor. "The baby's moving like crazy. I don't know what he's doing. Gymnastics, or something."

By focusing on the life growing inside her, Mrs. Bass keeps thoughts of the flood outside of her mind. But there are daily reminders: a call from an SBA officer about the loan. A call from the Realtor to discuss the sale of the Pendleton Street house. A trip to Wal-Mart to rebuy the basic household items she had so recently purchased.

In some ways, Mrs. Bass said, she doesn't want to forget the flood because of all the good things people did. She uses her free time to track down the people who helped her and her husband.

"I've got thank-you cards," she said. "With something like this you realize you have more friends than you thought and yet not as many."