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Sept. 11, 2001: Another day of infamyThe island boosts security after terrorist attacks shock the nation.
Drivers were turned away at the ferry terminal gate, the silent streets and holding area symbolic of the pall cast over Bainbridge Island after terrorist attacks against the nation Tuesday morning.Downtown, few cars or pedestrians were about, as islanders stayed near televisions and radios while details of the horror in New York, Washington D.C. and elsewhere unfolded.There's so many nuts around these days, one pedestrian mused to a companion near the terminal.Washington State Ferries closed most runs to vehicle travel at about 9 a.m., to prevent any possible vehicle bombs. The system continued to accept walk-on and bike passengers.WSF spokesperson Pat Patterson said the closure was based on recommendations from the Coast Guard.We didn't hesitate to accept that recommendation, she said.The Coast Guard did not indicate that it had received any specific threats, she said.At press time, Patterson did not know how long the vehicle ban would last, or what would trigger its removal.Matching heightened security at government buildings around the country, Bainbridge Police officers were posted around city hall. Five additional officers were called in, to keep an eye on the ferry terminal, local schools and the Agate Passage Bridge.People are staying home, which is good, Chief Bill Cooper said.Administrator Lynn Nordby said that the city had not activated its emergency operations office, and did not expect to do so. Seattle has activated its office, but we don't have the kind of high-visibility targets here on Bainbridge, he said.The office in the Phelps Road fire station contains backup communications facilities, Nordby said. Under the plan, the city could move operations to that location.Mayor Dwight Sutton said the city has no plans to cancel or postpone any scheduled meetings. He noted that one objective of terrorists is to create the maximum possible disruption, and said one way the city could fight back is to conduct business as usual.He cautioned against any rush to judgment, hoping there would be no repeat of the anti-Japanese feelings in the wake of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.I can imagine that people of Arab extraction might feel threatened or harassed, he said, and I hope that doesn't happen. How we behave in the next few weeks will be a real test for our democracy.The local faith community was organizing various responses to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, believed to have claimed thousands of lives and throwing the nation into uncertainty and chaos perhaps not seen since the dawn of World War II.Eagle Harbor Congregational Church was to have a community prayer service Tuesday evening, while Chavurat Shir Hayam will say Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, in memorial for victims of the terrorist attacks at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13. Bainbridge schools stayed open throughout the day. We coordinated with Bainbridge Police and fire departments, and also stayed in close touch with the Kitsap County emergency management team, school Superintendent Stephen Rowley said. As far as the decision to keep schools open, we looked to the decision of the Seattle district.Rowley noted that while high school classes viewed and discussed news coverage, other district classes proceeded as usual.The district's Tuesday evening soccer game with Lakeside School was rescheduled for Wednesday. Call 780-1254 for more information about possible rescheduling of sports events.Relief effortsIslanders may be able to donate blood on Bainbridge for victims of the terrorist attacks.Tuesday morning, private citizens and the mayor's office were coordinating with Puget Sound Blood Blank to bring a mobile unit to Bainbridge, possibly to the Commons building. The idea was Aileen Griffey's way to help friends and relatives in Manhattan. I was thinking about how we could reach out to our friends across the country, Griffey said. I knew we couldn't contact them directly, but an overnight letter could let them know about the blood drive to help. As of Tuesday noon, the plan had yet to be confirmed by the blood bank. I hope that it is going to happen, but I am uncertain, Sutton said. I expect that there are several competing agencies all wanting to do a blood drive.Those wishing to donate blood must be 18 years old, or be 16 and 17 with a parental permission slip. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health.Information about donations can be found at the Puget Sound Blood Bank website: www.psbc.org, or by calling 842-2545.CountywideKitsap County Emergency Management personnel hunkered down for the long haul on Tuesday, shortly after the World Trade Center collapsed in New York City and flames engulfed part of the Pentagon.We are in a heightened state of awareness right now and coordinating with our other agencies, said Laura Jull, a project manager with Kitsap emergency management. Emergency personnel opened by early Tuesday an Emergency Operations Center in Bremerton, where several officials worked the phones.We're contacting police and fire agencies and making sure everyone is on the same page, said Jull.All eyes in Kitsap automatically shifted to the naval base at Bangor and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, since national security and military forces reached a high state of alert after acts of terrorism shocked the nation and spurred talk of war. Bangor spokesman Paul Taylor said the base Tuesday was in a security-force protection level of delta.We are allowing school buses to come and go through the main gate only and residents and workers have access, but it's very slow, he said. Security is at its highest level.Meanwhile, at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, media relations personnel remained tight-lipped. Spokeswoman Diane Manning said the shipyard wasn't going to issue any information regarding security and what steps the compound is taking at this point.In addition to heightened security at Kitsap military bases, Jull reminded residents on Tuesday that traffic wasn't going to be pretty.Emergency Management personnel also advised Kitsap residents on Tuesday to prepare as they would during a natural disaster - that is, be sure to have three-day supplies of food, water and the like.We don't want people to get into a heightened state and go out and buy an abundance of groceries, but they need to know that being prepared is a good thing, she said. Staff writers Dee Axelrod and Amy Crumley contributed to this report.