Sunday, July 20, 1997
Flood of volunteers
remain in Falmouth

89 'angels' helped rebuild last week

BY ANDREA TORTORA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FALMOUTH - Saturdays bustle here with the comings and goings of visitors.

It's like a summer resort - except these folks come to Pendleton County well-rested and leave exhausted.

''We will probably have between 89 and 105 people in this week,'' said the Rev. Ken Gates, who helps pair volunteers with waiting repair jobs.

As last week's 89 volunteers finished their stay and headed out of town Saturday, new arrivals settled in and prepared for the week ahead.

Some, like a group of veterans from Wilmington, Ohio, just come for the day. In Cincinnati for the Legionnaires Convention, the men decided to help residents as they continue to rebuild after the flood.

Residents in this town nearly destroyed by floodwaters in March think of the volunteers as angels. They take turns preparing meals and providing housing for the visitors. They are amazed that nearly five months after the disaster, people are still coming to help.

''It's really nice of them,'' Rigg Street resident Dorothy Cookendorfer, 80, said as she watched a group from the Concord Baptist Church in Calera, Ala., work on a house across the street.

As volunteers piece Falmouth back together, Falmouth brings together people that might not have reason to associate. The Alabama group worked with five teens from St. Dominic's Catholic Church in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

''We're doing what we can to help out,'' said Susan Kennedy, 15. ''It's hard work. But some of us will be back in three weeks.''

Most of the volunteers work with Pencare - a nonprofit group organized by local churches to coordinate recovery efforts. Rev. Gates said 250 homes and business have been helped since the flood through more than 50,000 volunteer work hours and $100,000 worth of building supplies.

''There's still plenty of work to be done,'' the Rev. Gates said. ''We are in dire need now of skilled laborers; people that put the smooth touch on dry wall and finish carpenters that do the trim work.''

Mrs. Cookendorfer's home was one of the first to be remodeled. One of only a handful left standing on Rigg Street, the white stucco two-story looks brand new. Alabama volunteer Patsy Seals helped her hang new curtains.

''This is probably the worst kind of destruction we've ever seen,'' Ms. Seals said. The church does mission trips every year.

Though the bulk of work is construction, demolition and home repairs, even simple tasks are appreciated.

''I cut the grass down there today,'' Mississippi volunteer Glennwood Mathis said as he cooled himself on the front porch of an empty, dirty house. ''I don't know who they are, but I don't think they'll mind.''

To volunteer or request help from Pencare, call (606) 654-2444 or fax (606) 654-2555. An account has been set up at United Kentucky Bank for donations. Call Treasurer Darin Hart at (606) 654-2500.

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