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50 Tri-Citians left in Sprague

SPRAGUE - Three Finley women are among 50 Tri-Citians stranded here along with about 200 other Mount St. Helens refugees battling volcanic ash and boredom.

People are sleeping on the high school gymnasium floor and bleachers, in private homes "and I'm in what used to be a senior citizens home with eight or 10 other people," said Carol Turner.

Mrs. Turner, Fran MacRoberts and Sylvia Cook had been to Spokane for the Lilac Festival and were en route home Sunday when the mountain eruption turned day into night and falling ash made driving treacherous

"We slept the first night in the high school gym and it was awful. People were coming in at all hours , some drunk, stepping on sleeping people, and grinding cigarettes out in the floor.

"The people in Sprague have been great. Nobody has asked us for a dime and everyone has been willing to help supply food' or other needs," said Mrs. Turner.

She said Sprague's mayor called Gov. Dixy Lee Ray

Tuesday asking for help in opening Highway 395 to free the stranded travelers.

Someone in the governor's office said that "we should just get in our cars and go home...that's dumb," said Mrs. Turner. "Let the governor try driving in this stuff."

Mrs. Turner said one woman with high blood pressure walked from Fishtrap Lake to Sprague, about 25 miles. "It took her two days to get here."

"Buses aren't working. There aren't any trains or planes. We can't go toward Spokane, we can't come home and the state patrol recommends that we don't head toward Seattle.

"We're passing the time by helping to cook and clean, read or watch television. But we're all getting worried. Everyone seems to have sore eyes and throats, there have been reports of skin irritation and now the birds are dying.

"There have been power outages and tree limbs are breaking because of the weight of the ash, but the worst thing is the birds...they're just dead," Mrs. Turner said.