County Connections: 1997 catastrophic Licking River flood still remembered by Falmouth and Pendleton County residents

11/29/2017 08:33 PM

FALMOUTH – On March 1, 1997, one of the biggest natural disasters to ever strike Pendleton County happened as the forks of the Licking River gushed out of their banks covering 70 percent of the town of Falmouth, and 30 percent of the town of Butler in the northern end of the county.

Approximately 110 housing units in were destroyed in the two towns. Falmouth had 105 businesses flooded and 37 of those did not reopen. All government buildings in the county were flooded.

Kincaid Lake State Park Manager Jeff Auchter recalls the day, and how the city and county came back despite suffering catastrophic losses.

“It’s still hard to imagine the devastation that flood not only caused Falmouth but Butler as well,” Auchter said. “What I remember was the night before, helping some friends of ours move out of their house and coming back from getting some drinks for everybody, and as I got out and the water hit me at about my knees and people running out of the house, you know, and seeing what was going on in Falmouth at that time, people just trying to get out of town.”

While Auchter says the flood has left scars in town which can still be seen after 20 years, the city has also come back strong in many areas.

“When you look at our downtown now, great things are happening and that’s a credit to the people here locally that didn’t give up, and they want to have a vibrant downtown” Auchter said.

Falmouth and Butler had 120 residential property owners eligible for a combined $3.8 million in “buyouts”. The flood resulted in a net loss of $16 million in tax revenue for the county.

Flood photos courtesy of The Falmouth Outlook.


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