Evacuated Md. Residents May Return To Homes Tonight

5:28 PM, Aug 24, 2011   |    comments
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PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. (WUSA) -- Hundreds of families evacuated from their buildings in Prince George's County could be allowed back in their homes as early as 8 p.m.

Some 500 Residents of Temple Hills and Hillcrest Heights were evacuated after Tuesday's 5.8 magnitude earthquake. They have since been offered temporary shelter at a nearby community center, mainly organized by Red Cross and the county.

During the day, crews at Temple Hills put up fencing and removed loose brick pieces on the roof and around a warped. Engineers and contractors looked for structural damage and marked in orange the possible danger zones.

Gary Cunningham with the Department of Environmental Resources said they have to remove part of the wall to determine the extent of the damage.

Experts add that small cracks could lead to big problems and they can't make any guarantee when residents can re-enter homes because lives could be in danger.

Evacuated resident Delores Wallace said, "I can wait until next week if I have to to be safe. That's the most important thing. It's something that happened. It's Mother Nature."

About the possibility that she could return to her home, Lisa Kinard said, "I feel wonderful. I need to shower and feed the children."

If residents can't return tonight, county officials say residents will be able to go home sometime tomorrow. But they are optimistic about Wednesday night. In the meantime, the temporary shelter at the Hillcrest Heights Community Center will stay open until residents are given the all clear to go home.

Earlier Wednesday, we spoke to Anthony Barlow, who was in his 4th floor apartment when the building rattled, "I thought I was dreaming...next thing you know, I'm flying down the steps."

Now his building on Good Hope Avenue in Temple Hills and a nearby apartment building on Curtis Drive are condemned.

"All the walls cracked," Shanita Haynie was inside and went running down the stairwell. "The whole building was just like shaking. It really felt like we were going to go down."

Haynie and Barlow are now staying at the Hillcrest Heights Community Center where the Red Cross has set up a shelter.

But one woman hasn't left her apartment building parking lot. She was sitting there all night. "Because that's where I live, and I want to know what's going on."

Structural engineers are evaluating and assessing the damaged buildings that sustained significant damage. Spray painted arrows indicate cracks all along the top, and the fire department says the walls have separated from the roof.

The woman in the parking lot yearns to find out what the prognosis is and vows to stay until she finds out.

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