CURRY COUNTY REACTS TO U.S. TERRORIST ATTACKS

September 11, 2001 11:00 pm
One of many shoppers at Fred Meyer stops to watch TV News. ().
One of many shoppers at Fred Meyer stops to watch TV News. ().

The terrorist attacks that rocked the East Coast Tuesday were felt by residents throughout Brookings-Harbor.

The local reaction included quickly organized prayer circles, flags posted at half mast, calls from residents wanting to donate blood and an increase in gas prices.

Im just in shock, said Sandy Dose, secretary at the Church of the Nazarene. I never expected this type of thing to happen in America.

Her church and others throughout Brookings-Harbor opened their doors within hours of hearing about the attacks.

Members gathered for prayer at First Baptist Church and several people utilized the sanctuary at the Church of the Nazarene.

Brookings Police Sgt. John Bishop said dispatchers at the station received numerous calls from residents following the attacks.

Some people were calling in suspicious vehicles, Bishop said. I think its the adrenaline. They feel like they have to do something, so they call us.

At Fred Meyer, Brookings resident Jason Carter stood in front of a bank of televisions, watching in horror as a news channel played videotape of a airliner crashing into one of the World Trade Centers towers and the subsequent collapse of the other tower.

Hearing about it is one thing, but watching it on TV is just heart-wrenching, Carter said.

Al Capilla was one of the first to call The Pilot wondering if blood donations would be gathered locally to help victims in New York and Washington.

Wouldnt it be great if Brookings could be among the first to help? Capilla asked.

To donate blood or for information, residents can call the Pacific Northwest Regional Blood Services of the American Red Cross at (541) 459-0440.

One thing that caught residents by surprise was the sudden increase in gas prices. Prices at several stations rose by nearly 20 cents up to $2.03.

I think its unpatriotic to take advantage of people during a tragedy like this, said Barney Harris, a Gold Beach resident who stopped in Brookings to fill up Tuesday.

Prices also increased dramatically in Gold Beach and Crescent City. Reports of high gas prices were reported elsewhere in the state and the nation.

Early Tuesday, Brookings Fire Department Chief Bill Sharp said he and officials with the city, other emergency services agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard met to discuss how to react to the attacks.

With city hall and other government buildings in the area, were going to be on alert and cautions, but otherwise its business as usual, Sharp said.

He and other officials were taking numerous phone calls during the day from concerned citizens.

A lot of folks are traumatized by this; by what theyve seen on TV, he said. Were basically just trying to show concern and direct them to local churches and places for counseling.

As word of the attacks spread, Brookings-Harbor school buses were already taking kids to school.

District Superintendent Paul Prevenas said a morning meeting was held between the District Administration Office and the school principals to discuss the possible effects the attacks may have on the local community and the schools.

Were doing our best to have they day run as normally as possible, Prevenas said early Tuesday.

Were definitely being cautious, but at the same time we dont want to cause any panic. This is a serious nationwide event, and we want to take care of the young people in our community.

A decision was made to keep school open because it was probably the safest place as far as supervision, he said. The volunteer VIPS were called in as a precaution and security was stepped up, he said.

Prevenas said school teachers would have age-appropriate discussions with students about what was going on, but would be sensitive toward the younger children and students who come from military families.

An open house at Azalea Middle School scheduled for Tuesday night was cancelled in the wake of the attacks, as was a girls volleyball game. As a precaution, the state had ordered all public schools to be closed by 6 p.m.

Curry County government offices will remain open, though the Brookings Airport was closed Tuesday.

The Crescent City Airport, as were all airports throughout the nation, was closed until further notice under order of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The commissioners conducted business as usual, but their voices were choked with emotion at a meeting with state parks officials Tuesday morning.

This is one time we can be glad we live in an area that is not strategic, said Commissioner Marlyn Schafer.

Commissioner Lucie La Bont said county employees, however, were worried about their relatives on the East Coast.

She later said the commissioners and sheriff would continue to track the tragedy.

Our prayers go out to the families of the victims, she added.

The Coast Guard, being a military installation, was unable to respond to specific questions by The Pilot regarding their activities following the attacks.

However, Mike Lewis, Executive Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Station, Chetco River, released an official statement that read:

The security posture of Coast Guard units along the Oregon coast has been increased in response to these terrorist activities.

Coast Guard units along the Oregon coast, both surface and air, remain ready to respond to any situation requiring Coast Guard involvement or assistance.

The events occurring in New York City and Washington D.C. have not degraded the search and rescue response of local Coast Guard units. As always, the Coast Guard is prepared to respond to any request for assistance.