Newspaper: The Patriot
Date: April 3, 1979
Title: Cumberland County Officials Ready for Evacuation
Author: Roger Doran, Staff Writer

CARLISLE-Deputy Sheriff (illegible) E. Spike Alspaugh (illegible) intercepting anyone coming (illegible) the Cumberland County Emergency Operations Center in the basement of the courthouse (illegible).

“These people are too busy,” Alspaugh said. “They don’t need (illegible) wandering in and out.”

(Illegible) staff in the operations (illegible) on telephones complete-(illegible) for any possible evacuation. Later, however, (illegible) the hopeful word that conditions at the Three Mile Island nuclear generating plant had improved and that an evacuation may even be ruled out.

Nonetheless the planned procedures remained intact.

“We’re ready,” said Tom Blosser, director of the county EOC.

“A lot of hours have been spent getting ready for something like this,” said Commissioner Raymond W. Sawyer Jr. “We can handle our share of whatever is asked of us.”

The optimism managed to penetrate the noise of the operations center where staff had been gathering all morning, going about their assigned tasks. While several phone lines were tied up, others in the room gathered in small groups, conversations rising and falling around the room like the babble of a cocktail party.

THE EMERGENCY center, which includes the county’s communications network, was constructed in various phases over the past three years at a total cost of slightly more than $400,000. It is designed to maintain operations involving about 40 people for at least two weeks.

“We can take care of staff needs for that length of time,” Blosser said. “We have food and fuel for that time, and sleeping quarters for that many.”

And, Blosser said, “the timing of this emergency really worked out right for us.”

He said that the underground water tank, placed in the north-west corner of the courthouse lawn last year, “just had the kinks worked out a couple of weeks ago.”

The center has its own generator to supply its power for several months of operation.

While the EOC complex was designed for an extreme emergency, such as a nuclear attack, its impetus came from the need for a central operations center because of Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

Few thought its possible use might come because of the failure of the nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island.

“At any rate,” Blosser said, “we could never have done what we are now capable of doing if we hadn’t gone ahead with our plans.”

Commissioner Raymond W. Sawyer said that the county had followed every recommendation made to create such a facility. “Our people have attended every training session available to us, and we’ve passed all this along to others.”

Elsewhere in Carlisle, the Cumberland County seat 23 miles away from Three Mile Island, the prevailing attitude is one of calm-almost another world from the thinned-out population center on the West and East shores.