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Robin Stuart on: Her Decision to Leave Town
Robin Stuart Q: What finally makes you decide to leave?

RS: It was probably when they were saying to evacuate pregnant women and children. How can you say one life is more valuable than another? The women and children, why do they come first? I felt sorry, I recall, for the people who couldn't leave and who wouldn't leave. My father wouldn't leave. My mother was out of town at the time. She was up in the Poconos and they stayed there. My siblings all left and were leaving. And my father wouldn't leave and he was almost, to me, like one of the people who couldn't leave, like the policeman and the fireman and the people who were in charge of security. Dad was thinking of his neighbors and his neighborhood and thinking about the possibility of looting and he was going to stand guard and I think that that's where some of the wouldn't and couldn't. He was one of the heroes to me because he felt that sense of duty.

Q: Were you worried that you wouldn't never be able to come back?

RS: Well, the amazing thing, at least for me, was that when I got to my destination, when our good cousins took us in on Plum Island, where was I? I was within view of another nuclear power plant. That was where we landed. And my thoughts were full of, "You're not leaving it behind. It doesn't matter where you go." You know, we were not --perhaps we were singled out for what happened that day, but it wasn't necessarily Middletown. It could have been anywhere and it could have been the next day, the next week to the refuge I had gone to. I could have been faced with the same thing. And then what do you do? Then where do you run to, the next one? How far away can you go? I don't think you can anymore. And I think I knew that then. It wasn't that "Where are other power plants?" I mean I was faced with another one in my exodus.
Q: What do you encounter on your exodus from Middletown?

RS: I do recall going to Dad's house, stopping at a red light, and there was a gas station that was closed, as many of them were at that point. Whether they were out of gas or whether the owners had left, of course, there was no way to know. I got out of my car to take a photograph of the cardboard make-shift signs on the gas tanks that read "Out of Gas". And as I did, a car was driving by behind the gas tanks with a crib roped to the top. And it just seemed to be finality or reality of what was looming over our heads. That it truly was a mass exodus. Shortly farther down the road, the restaurants were closed because they didn't have enough employees to stay open because everyone was leaving.

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