Newspaper: The Evening Sentinel
Date: April 5, 1979
Title: Life Will Never Be the Same
Author: Scott MacLeod, United Press International
HARRISBURG, Pa.-Central Pennsylvanians are returning home after a week-long nuclear
crisis that scared tens of thousands away to safer territory. But some say life
will never be the same near Three Mile Island.
"People are still afraid, as far as the nuclear power plant is concerned,"
said John Brabits, assistant director of the civil defense in Dauphin County,
the center of the endangered area.
"I won't feel safe until the people at three Mile Island say the reactor
is in a cold shutdown state. I'm still concerned about the health and safety of
the people in my county."
ABOUT 78,900 of the estimated 200,000 residents who fled Dauphin and nearby counties
after the nuclear accident eight days ago apparently felt the area was safe enough
and have returned to their homes, civil defense authorities said.
People fled to Appalachian Mountain towns in north and western Pennsylvania, some
as far west as Pittsburgh and as far east as Connecticut.
The optimistic return was coupled Tuesday night by Gov. Dick Thornburgh's announcement
that the chances of a catastrophe have greatly diminished because a potentially
explosive hydrogen bubble in the nuclear reactor was eliminated.
Thornburgh has not ordered a mandatory evacuation, but six counties have kept
their evacuation plans on alert status.
AN EERIE air raid siren blared through downtown Harrisburg at 9:50 a.m. Wednesday
just as thousands poured back in, and callers jammed the lines at Dauphin County
civil defense headquarters.
"Don't worry, nobody hit the panic button," Brabits reassured them.
He said the siren was tripped by mistakes.
Meanwhile, residents resumed their daily lives. Women went grocery shopping and
children attended re-opened schools.
Robert Reid, mayor of Middletown, where the tall white cooling towers of the Three
Mile Island have become an uneasy reminder of the near-disaster, was asked about
life in Middletown getting back to normal.
"I don't think it'll ever be the same," he said.