A former Farrell, Pa., man who now lives in Maryland said his focus was on his children.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
A brother and sister who are natives of Farrell, Pa., were both neighbors to America's tragedy Tuesday.
Cyr Linonis, a census bureau employee from Maryland, said he has been mesmerized by the terror unfolding in the nation's capital, just 20 miles from his home.
"It's so close to home now," said Linonis, who has driven by the Pentagon from time to time and used to pass it regularly before he married and his wife lived in Virginia. He was reached by phone on Tuesday.
In Somerset, Pa., Linonis' sister Sibyl McNelly was on standby to respond to any survivors of the hijacked passenger plane that crashed there. The registered nurse works at the Allegheny General Hospital Somerset Oncology Center.
"It really hit home that terrorism can occur anywhere, in a big city as well as in a rural area," said McNelly, also interviewed by telephone.
Work for government: Linonis and his wife, Anne, both work for the census bureau, part of a government complex about six miles from downtown Washington, D.C., off Pennsylvania Avenue. When the workplace was evacuated, it was a "bit of a nightmare" with about 3,000 employees leaving at once.
The couple both took back roads to reach their children, who needed to be picked up from three different schools in Maryland. All are closed. Another problem was reaching parents of other children the couple picked up. Cell phone lines were overloaded.
Linonis said he will return to work today.
"I have no increased fear," he said. "I would be more worried thinking about other targets out here, like the nuclear power plant."
Kids' reaction: His main focus has been on his children and their reaction to the tragedy. A 14-year-old daughter was upset by fears for a classmate whose parents work at the Pentagon. Other unsupported rumors have also caused fear among area children, he said.
Adults, he said, have achieved a calm.
McNelly said parents in the Somerset area were concerned when first hearing of the crash, just five minutes away from a local school.
"It caused a lot of distress," she said. "It truly was terrifying."