BY ANDREA TORTORA
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FALMOUTH - For the hundreds of weary volunteers trudging through mud, tearing out walls and tiling roofs, a hot serving of chicken and noodles feeds more than the stomach.
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.
''More than anybody could begin to understand, this is thanks, gratitude and food all at once,'' Joe Rice said as he waited for lunch in a buffet line in Falmouth Baptist Church's basement.
A member of the Franklin (Ohio) Evangelical Community Church, Mr. Rice led 44 volunteers ages 10 to 64 to Falmouth recently for a week of demolition and reconstruction.
The Franklin group is just one of dozens still coming to Falmouth to help rebuild. And they are part of the hundreds being served by ladies from Turner Ridge Baptist Church and other Pendleton County groups in the basement of the Falmouth Baptist Church.
''We feel like this is one of the greatest missions we could have at this time,'' said Turner Ridge member Julia Jenkins. Every Tuesday, she, Teeney Lovelace and Carletta Gallagher serve a hot meal to volunteers in town that week.
In the six months since the Ohio and Licking rivers swamped the homes and lives of Northern Kentucky and Ohio residents, volunteers have rebuilt, refurbished and replanted for thousands:
In Pendleton County, organizers of Pencare - a non-profit group put together by local churches to coordinate recovery efforts in Pendleton - are assessing what services residents will need in the near future.
Using the American Red Cross, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Salvation Army, Presbytery of Cincinnati, Lutheran Disaster Relief and local churches, Pencare will make sure families have all the clothing, furniture and food they need.
Volunteer laborers of the Mennonite Disaster Service arrived in New Richmond in mid-March, built a home for themselves in an empty car dealership and went to work for five months.
Founded in 1950, the church group seeks out storm-ravaged areas nationally, bringing in carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters.
When the Mennonites left July 30, a total of 532 workers from around Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma had come to work, putting in 1,485 work days. Each group stayed from a weekend to two weeks.
Christine Wolff contributed to this story.
The Flood of '97
140 COLOR PHOTOS