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Sunday, May 1, 2016

A country shuts down

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Throughout the country airports and federal buildings closed. At the Siouxland Gateway Airport, Northwest Airlines representatives said flights were grounded until at least noon today, while the FAA grounded all commercial and private flights, including at the Storm Lake Municipal Airport.

"All air craft are grounded until further notice," said Robert Ohrlund, chair of the airport commission.

The 185th Fighter Wing based out of Sioux City was on heightened alert, as are other military and National Guard units throughout the country.

Federal offices in Storm Lake closed down yesterday, including the Social Security Administration and the USDA offices.

A national response has been planned over the years, and will be put into full effect, said Bob Christensen, Buena Vista County emergency management coordinator.

"Emergency management deals with terrorist events and mitigation planning," Christensen said. "They're meeting as we speak on a national level."

As of Tuesday afternoon Christensen said no requests for assistance were made of local or state resources.

Mitigation planning has been focused on locally in the past several years.

"We have implemented terrorist activity planning into emergency management planning," Christensen said. "It's a unified, ongoing plan for most any even, such as weather."

For the veteran emergency management coordinator, he had only one word for the destruction on the east coast - unbelievable.

"I haven't seen anything like this before," said Christensen. "This incident, personally, will change a lot of things all the way from the national level to the local level. There'll be more focus on terrorist events."

Local politicians offered what words of comfort they could.

Sen. Tom Harkin said the nation must not succumb to panic.

"We must meet this tragedy with resolve, determination and the coordination of federal, state and local agencies," Harkin said. "Our nation stands in shock and mourning in the face of these horrific acts."

Sen. Charles Grassley said any U.S. military response will be "major."

"I think any military response will be major and there might even be non-military response ... We've got to send the signal that we are not going to tolerate this attack on our nation," Grassley said. "I don't understand people who feel that their suicide is an act of faith and that killing all these people is the road to Heaven. I don't understand that. I never will."

State Senator Steve King offered his prayers to the families and friends of the victims of the terrorist attacks. He urged cooperation throughout the country, including from those affected by the airport shut downs and increased security at state and federal facilities.

"This is a time for us to show our unity, not a time to place blame or be involved in politics," he said.

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