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Flooding Dashes ‘American Dream’ With AM-Mississippi Flood, Bjt

July 7, 1993

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) _ The worst flooding in 30 years has wrecked Greg Kehl’s home, devoured his dream garden and left him and his fiancee living out of a car loaded with beds, chairs, coolers and two pets.

″We’re just displaced people now,″ he said Wednesday outside an American Red Cross shelter.

Kehl was joined in the parking lot he now calls home by his fiance, Barbara Cirillo, and her brother, Bill Kennamer of Decaturville, Tenn.

There’s also Blackie, the couple’s cat, and Molly, a keishhound-chow mix dog that doesn’t like strangers approaching Kennamer’s beat-up 1976 Chevy Nova.

The three have folding chairs and a cooler. They had hung three white towels on the fence to dry. That was before it started raining again.

″Right now I don’t know what I’d do without the Red Cross,″ Kehl said. ″We’re taking three squares (meals) a day here, but I won’t go in to sleep. I just won’t be comfortable on cots.

″We all chose to stay together out here as a family,″ he said.

Kehl, a handyman dressed in blue bib overalls, was especially proud of the garden he was growing in his back yard. But unrelenting rain kept feeding the Mississippi River and Black Hawk Creek about a block behind the house.

On June 30, rising water breached a dike and ran 3 feet deep into their basement. They were among hundreds ordered evacuated from the city’s southwest section known as Garden Addition.

″We were planning on making that our home for a lot of years,″ Kehl said. ″I had put in a picture-perfect garden. It looked like an American dream.″

Kehl had no flood insurance.

He said the family was given about 2 1/2 hours’ notice to evacuate and there wasn’t time to pack up and move furniture, tools or plywood. ″We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off,″ he said.

But he’s not blaming authorities.

After all, Police Chief Steve Lynn loaned them $5. That gave them a total of $5.80 for their first two nights at the parking lot of a grocery store.

Kehl said he has since scraped together some money and bought a used full- size van he will keep at the shelter’s parking lot. That will give everyone more leg room, he said, but it’s in the shop right now for repairs.

Until it’s fixed, the battered blue Nova is as good as it gets.

″We don’t have no other place to stay,″ Kehl said. ″This is it. Right now, this is the only home we’ve got. We’re here until this thing blows over.″

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