Sunday, September 28, 1997
Disaster begets
common thread

Quilt project aims to capture spirit
of giving that emerged from flood

Enquirer Contributor

To help

Anyone interested in donating a quilt square or needed materials, or participating in the winter quilting bees (no experience necessary), call the Ebersole Community Center at 231-6617.

Although the flood of 1997 had devastating effects on many Tristate families and businesses, Marlene Trapp sees a silver lining.

''There was just such a good feeling of helpfulness, generosity and cooperativeness,'' she said of the rescue and cleanup efforts by thousands of area volunteers last spring.

To preserve that sense of community, Ms. Trapp, a director at the Ebersole Community Center in California, is working to assemble two commemorative quilts, made up of 12-by-12-inch squares donated by city departments, businesses and individuals.

She is looking for representations of residents' most vivid memories of the disaster, from floods to food.

George Wesner, an employee of the Metropolitan Sewer District, (MSD), said her square, a picture of a barrier dam and a pizza, represents her contribution to the relief effort.

''It was my job to drive pizzas to the people who were working on the different dams,'' she said. ''You would see these people so dirty and so tired, just shoving this pizza in their mouths.''

The Ohio River crested at 64.7 feet on March 5. Thousands of people were driven from their homes, and 93 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana were declared federal disaster areas. But donations of money, clothing and food poured in to the Red Cross.

''I want to preserve those wonderful outpourings of help,'' Ms. Trapp said. ''There's not a lot of memorabilia left from the other floods, and I just think it would be nice to have something like this.''

Jackie Frazier, East End resident and Ms. Trapp's quilting adviser, said she wants to create a square, in addition to her other two of River Downs and Coney Island, capturing the frustration she felt when her living room was swimming in 4 feet of water.

''It just seemed like we were getting hit with one thing after another,'' she said. ''I was living in the church, sleeping on a pew. Then we had a big windstorm that let loose all these boats from the harbor. I have a picture in my mind of all the men, trying to contain the boats and tying them to anything they could find.''

Ms. Trapp plans to host quilting bees this winter to finish the designs by March, one year after the flood. The finished quilts will hang in the Ebersole Community Center.

The Flood of '97