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9-11: Fear of another attack?

September 9, 2011
By Brad Bauer - The Marietta Times (bbauer@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times

As the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on the U.S. near, many area residents and officials say they have concerns of another potential strike.

"I think the terrorists -our enemies - have not finished their war," said Marietta firefighter/EMT Jack Hansis. "I do think they want to bring the fight to us and are still trying to find a target that would bring maximum exposure to their cause."

Hansis said there's no telling when and where that next attack will be.

Article Photos

BRAD BAUER The Marietta Times
Marietta firefighter/EMT Tom Reebel gets into a squad Thursday at Station 1 to respond to a call for service downtown. With the 9-11 anniversary this weekend, many people wonder what the chances are for another attack on the U.S.

The head of U.S. Homeland Security recently told The Associated Press there is "no specific credible threat" for the anniversary but that it doesn't mean the government is relaxing in terms of vigilance.

According to the AP, security heading into this weekend is being intensified at airports, train stations, chemical and nuclear plants and major sporting arenas across the nation.

None of the extra security is planned locally, according to police.

Fact Box

An ongoing series

  • Today: Is there fear of another attack? Also, a look at local ceremonies planned for Sunday, the 10th anniversary of 9-11.
  • Saturday: Local lives lost to the war on terror; veterans reactions; those who helped reflect on those days. Also, a Hometown Heroes special section inside the weekend edition.

Jim Casto, 61, of 1001 Colonial Drive, Marietta, said he is concerned about additional attacks. He said the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and the resulting fear have changed how he works and functions in the community.

"I used to fly almost weekly for work," he said. "I've flown once since then. I didn't like the security ... I didn't like anything about it and don't want to do it again ... When I go out to eat at a restaurant, I have to sit so that I'm facing the door so I can see who is coming in."

Marietta resident Teresa Markle, 49, said she tries not to think about another potential strike. She described being scared and upset by the events of 9-11 but said she's tried to put her fears to rest.

"There's not a lot a normal person can do," she said. "So why worry yourself?"

Garry Bonnette, 69, of Marietta, said he thinks another strike is likely at some point.

"It's possible, even probable," he said. "But I would hope they'd be smart enough now to know not to try it."

Bonnette, like many Americans, said he was angered by the attacks on 9-11. He said he tried to keep his mind off of things by focusing on a renovation project.

"I was spending a lot of time working on my house but by evening I had to sit down and turn on the TV to see what the latest was," he said.

Hansis recalled a "period of paranoia" that lasted about a year after the 9/11 attacks.

"People were hyper-sensitive," he said. "In the early days, people were really worried about bio-terrorism. We got a call to an auto parts company for an exhaust part that fell out of something they thought was a threat ... We got a call to a movie theater because there was a substance on a seat.

"We went in prepared for a possible chemical threat to find something spilled from a sugar coated candy box," he said.

Marietta College sophomore Shelly Rapp was 9 when the events of Sept. 11, 2001 unfolded. The Vienna, W.Va. native said thoughts of another attack don't cross her mind until she flies or travels to larger cities.

"You see the extra security and it makes you think about it," she said.

Rapp said she recently visited New York City with her sister.

"We went to visit the Statue of Liberty and even the security there was so intense," she said. "I hate that it has come to that but I do think there probably is still a threat."

Rapp said sometimes seeing a lot of security does little to make her feel more secure.

"You wonder what it's all for," she said, noting she's never changed travel plans or been too afraid to go to a bigger city or a large event.

Rapp said she plans to attend a 9-11 ceremony Sunday at the college.

The increase in security around the country since 9-11 has also included a shift in police focus. Marietta police Capt. Jeff Waite said officers have been trained to be more vigilant and to better detect suspicious activity.

"They're not going to call and tell you when and what they're going to do," Waite said. "You have to be prepared and ready to react."

Waite said several years ago a detective at the department was assigned to work as a liaison officer with Homeland Security.

"Several times a year he attends their functions and trainings and relays what he has learned to the rest of us," Waite said. "I feel like we're a lot better prepared than we were 10 years ago."

Hansis said firefighters and other first responders still have an instinct to rush into emergencies.

"Now we pause, look around a little bit and look to see if there's a secondary device or something else that could do harm to first responders or bystanders," he said.

Jeff Lauer, director of the Washington County Emergency Management Agency, said although a terrorist attack is unlikely in the region, federal grants though homeland security since 9/11 has made the county better prepared for those and other potential disasters.

Lauer didn't have exact figures available but said several hundred thousand dollars in grant money has been filtered though his office for emergency preparedness.

"Our major upgrade was upgrading our radio system," he said. "We spent more than $200,000 to get everyone on the same system. Before, you needed three radios to talk to police, fire and EMS. Now it's all on one radio but just a different channel."

Lauer said the county has also purchased first responder kits for hazardous materials and sent several first responders for specialized training to handle chemical accidents or spills.

 
 
 

 

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