COVINGTON, Ky. – Kathy Kinane and her husband walked into the upscale Waterfront restaurant wearing snorkeling gear, a joking reference to the recent rain and rising water levels outside the eatery housed on a barge.
They almost needed it. The Kinanes and 81 others found themselves floating downstream on the Ohio River during the dinner rush Friday night when the restaurant broke from its moorings. All had to be rescued one by one with a makeshift gangplank of ladders and ropes after the boat came to rest against a bridge about 100 feet downriver.
“We were joking about the river,” Kathy Kinane told the Associated Press on Saturday morning. “Well, the joke’s on us now.”
Officials said the hours-long rescue was orderly and calm. Women were rescued first, then the men. One patron would climb down the gangplank wearing a life jacket, which would then be sent back up for the next person. Kathy Kinane said she had to take off her heels to make her way down. Among those rescued was former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, Covington fire Capt. Chris Kiely said.
The barge started moving when a main cable came loose, leaving the remaining cables to handle more pressure than they could withstand, said Covington fire Chief Chuck Norris.
The barge came to rest against a bridge that spans the river, though the U.S. Coast Guard and other workers were still working Saturday to keep the boat secure until it could be towed back to its proper place. The river was already at least 3 feet above flood stage, according to the National Weather Service.