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Locals respond to terrorist actions

Local residents are finding ways to respond to Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the east coast.

Hood River's National Guard Armory was placed on "standby mode" immediately after three hijacked commercial flights were flown by terrorists into at least three targets, including two that destroyed the New York World Trade Center.

The Hood River Chapter of the American Red Cross rallied to build up blood supplies and send a six-member disaster relief team to the crash sites if needed.

Annie Simonds, Hood River interim executive director, said the phone began ringing off the hook on Tuesday as soon as local residents were informed of the massive civilian injuries.

An ecumenical prayer meeting was planned for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Asbury Methodist Church, 616 State St., Hood River. Pastors from Asbury, Our Redeemer Lutheran, and Riverside Congregational Church will be on hand, but the service is open to people of all faiths.

Check the Hood River News' web site for more details:

hrnewsATeaglenewspapers.com

The Portland Red Cross branches immediately began to be flooded with donors and Simonds said people wanting to participate are asked to make an appointment by calling 1-800-448-3543. Hood River donors can make a private appointment to give blood by calling Margo Parker, blood services chair, at 387-3669.

School will likely be in session Wednesday, said Jerry Sessions, superintendent of Hood River County School District. The administration planned to determine Tuesday afternoon (too late for publication) whether to keep school in session.

"Kids are safe at school and we'll try to take care of their emotional needs," Sessions said.

But the district expects emotional reactions to a mind-boggling tragedy.

"This is a global community, and we have friends and relatives all over the world and you worry about them," Sessions said.

Sessions said the first question parents had Tuesday morning was "are we going to have school?"

"We're going to assess the situation this morning, evaluate it. There is a crisis team in the district, we pulled them together (at 8 a.m.) and develop a course of action and go out and implement it." (A second meeting was planned at 12:30 p.m.) "The team varies depending on the situation. It's made up of counselors and the administrative team."

"We're not trying to overreact but we also don't want to underreact."

In district crisis management plan, there is plenty about earthquakes and bomb threats, "but there's nothing like that (World Trade Center disaster) in there."

"It's like the Oklahoma City bombing: you see the images, the television images, and kids worry 'can that happen to me?' so you're trying to reassure them that it's safe and you're okay."

Will the district take specific safety measures in light of this tragedy?

"We're going to be a little more attuned to entry points in the buildings, we'll try to know where our kids are all the time, and keep our ears tuned to the news.

"You worry about things, with Cascade Locks and Bonneville Power Administration there, but we'll try to keep as normal a day as possible.

"More shock than panic" was the reaction at Portland International Airport, where Hood River News publisher Jim Kelly was preparing to board a flight to Milwaukee early Tuesday.

"It happened exactly as I was approaching the terminal. I got dropped off at 6:25 a.m. at Northwest Airlines terminal, and stood in line for awhile to check my baggage. At that point a guard came over and said there would be a chance of a nationwide shutdown, but they took my bags."

Approaching his gate, Kelly noticed groups of people gathered around televisions in the cafes and bars of the airport. He learned then that his flight and all others had been cancelled.

"People just couldn't believe it could happen," he said. However, he said it did not appear people feared for their personal safety.

"The thing that really hit me was that this was not an isolated incident," Kelly said. "The question everyone asked was how widespread is it. I just hope there's not a reactionary response to all this."

Father Ronald Maag of St. Mary's Catholic Church said everyone's first reponsibility is to find out the facts.

"Whoever is behind it doesn't value human life. We're quick to judge, but you have to hold back until you know the facts. The hard thing is not to prejudge until we get the facts and then respond," Maag said.

"You can't do anything until you get the facts. I want to get all the facts today. I'll probably offer some masses. One of our ways is to pray and have some times to pray for answer. This will be a priority for us (in church prayer groups). I'll as the parish council tornight how we can facilitate helping.

"It's kind of an act of war, when you look at it," Father Maag said.

Since blood supplies will be needed for weeks to come, Simonds said county residents can also wait to participate in two upcoming blood drives: Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. 2 p.m. at Bonneville Lock and Dam; and from 1:30-6:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 at the Hood River Armory. Simonds said Type O blood is particularly needed since it is the most commonly used.

She said monetary donations are also helpful to relief efforts and can be sent to: Hood River Chapter of the American Red Cross, 1100 East Marina Way Ste. 103, Hood River, Ore. 97031.

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