Newspaper: The Evening Sentinel
Date: April 4, 1979
Title: Evacuation in ‘Holding Pattern’; Estimated 200,000 Return to Homes
Author: George Lobsenz, United Press International
HARRISBURG-Although six counties within 20 miles of the stricken Three Mile Island nuclear plant remain on advance evacuation alert, Civil Defense officials say some of the 200,000 residents who left the area have been returning to their homes.
John Comey, spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Management, said Gov. Dick Thornburgh has issued no evacuation orders. Thornburgh said Tuesday night the situation appeared to be safer, although he kept in effect his recommendation that pregnant women and children stay away from within five miles of the plant.
CIVIL DEFENSE authorities were poised to evacuate 636,000 persons on short notice if such action was necessary. Authorities were refining the evacuation plans.
“We’re still in a holding pattern,” said Comey.
Those who did evacuate at the suggestion of Thornburgh-155 pregnant women and small children and their families who live within five miles of the plant-still were being cared for at the sole government evacuation center at the Hersheypark Arena.
AT LEAST ONE person who fled the area was killed and another seriously injured during the past four days.
Authorities in Essex, Md., said Kristoff Lo Piccolo, 6, of York, drowned Sunday evening in Hopkins Creek when he apparently attempted to jump from a pier onto a houseboat. He was staying with his parents, Phillip and Judith Lo Piccolo, after they fled the area of Three Mile Island.
And officials in Baltimore said Paula Matincheck, 21, of Middletown, was in critical condition in City Hospital with head injuries suffered in a two-car collision Saturday evening. Miss Matincheck, daughter of a Middletown funeral director, was staying with relatives in Baltimore after evacuating the area voluntarily.
BRUCE BEATON, director of the Hersheypark shelter, said they were making sure to provide entertainment for fidgety tots who have been cooped up in the cavernous arena by consistently rainy weather.
“We’ve had movies, magicians, a puppet show and we’re going to have some clowns coming in,” he said. “We had a coloring contest but of course the judges ruled all the pictures winners and everybody got a prize.
“Overall, the kids are getting a little rambunctious but the general mood is very good.”
Officials at the Greyhound Bus depot in Harrisburg confirmed that outbound traffic had fallen off dramatically from the weekend.
“WEEKEND TRAFFIC was up about 40 percent over the usual but it’s pretty much normal today (Tuesday). It looks like the exodus is over,” said Greyhound spokesman W.V. Dailey.
Meanwhile, Comey said the National Weather Service was providing updates on wind direction so that in the event of a radiation leak officials would know which area within a five-mile radius of the plant would receive top priority.
Civil defense directors in York, Lancaster, Dauphin and Cumberland counties-those immediately adjacent to the plant-said local officials had told them some of the estimated 200,000 residents who earlier left were returning.
“We’ve heard a few people are trickling back in,” said Tom Blosser, Cumberland County director. “But overall, the situation is stable and we are just taking care of minor details and refining our plans.”
Dauphin County Director Kevin Malloy-who also heard people were coming back-said he was on the lookout for complacency. “We don’t want to be lulled into a do-nothing attitude.”
Chemist Dave Styers checks milk samples collected Tuesday in Harrisburg at the Bureau of Radiological Health. Air, water and milk samples are being monitored daily since the Three Mile Island accident.