Newspaper: The Sentinel
Date: April 7. 1979
Article: Evacuees filtering back; Anxiety levels minimal
Author: United Press International
HARRISBURG (UPI) - Residents in small communities surrounding the slowly cooling
Three Mile Island nuclear reactor have uneasily made their way home and they appear
to be taking things in stride.
Clergymen and mental health workers say the prevailing mood is calm as citizens
try to settle back into their normal routines after the nation's worst nuclear
Yet, both religious and secular counselors agree that anxiety may mount in following
weeks when residents must deal with feelings that have been denied or assuaged
by the sudden tightening of family community ties that occurs in any crisis.
"People are actually aware of the situation now," says Rev. Catherine
Welton of the St. Michael and All Angeles Episcopal Church in Middletown. "But
I expect in a month or so, anxiety is going to hit in some form.
"In any crisis, you get along for a while with the help of neighbors and
Everybody is always calling and letting you know they care,"
"BUT THERE comes a point where friends stop checking so much
people aren't being so supportive
and they realize what they've been through
and there's this feeling of aloneness
Brian Fogarty, a psychotherapist at Harrisburg Hospital agrees.
"In something like this, the community pulls together and people become more
interdependent," he said.
"Then, after a while, they start forgetting and people are left alone to
deal with the feelings they're having," he added.
Others feel that many of those affected just haven't had the time to think about
what they've experienced and what it means.
"We really haven't got many calls relating to it (Three Mile Island),"
says Joe Bushman, counselor at the Dauphin County Crisis Intervention Center.
"It seems we've hit a lull
it hasn't sunk in yet
somehow denying what's happened."
"WHEN IT does sink in, I think we'll have our work cut of for us," he
He also noted that unlike previous crises in this area, like the Susquehanna River
flood of 1975, people cannot work out anxiety "in a physical way."
"In that, they could help people move or throw sandbags around. This is intangible
it's frustrating," he said.
And the Rev. Billy Holmes of the First Church of God in Highspire says of his
200 parishioners still may be stunned by the unreality of it all.