Local responses to terror alert

Jennifer Lassiter
star staff
jlassiter@starhq.com

  Since Sunday, President Bush has raised the terror alert to orange, or high, in the largest financial districts of our nation - specifically New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C., based on information gathered from intelligence officials. In response to the new threats, Bush has taken action to create a national intelligence director and counterterrorism center, according to the Associated Press.
  "Basically we can only do a certain amount with the funds we have; in New York they are being pumped with millions of dollars; with limited funds we'll have to rely on our trained staff," said Terry Arnold, Carter County EMS director.
  Sheriff John Henson said we do have a civil defense team that operates in Carter County. According to Henson, there are designated areas in the city and county for shelter in emergency situations.
   An unofficial survey conducted by Elizabethton Star staff yesterday afternoon asked local citizens what their views are concerning the Bush Administration as well as their confidence in local emergency planning and their personal fear factor.
  Charles Garland said he feels the war on terror is solely based on campaigning. " I don't believe in it; it is all to do with politics; there are no weapons of mass destruction and Michael Moore is right on."
   Michael Hermann said he isn't going to change his day-to-day life because of the heightened alert. "I hope somebody else is doing something for us as far as anybody higher up," he said.
  Jeff Buckles, of Elizabethton, is not completely confident in our current president's actions. "He's doing a fine job, not a good job."
  Locally, nuclear power plants could potentially be a target for terrorists. Martina Poole said, "There are a lot of things that we are unaware of, and many people don't realize we could be a big target as well."
   When asked if Bush was doing a good job in fighting terror, Poole said she believes he is doing a pretty good job, but said she isn't aware of all the latest data.
  Steffani Taylor said, because she doesn't have anyone else to compare the president to who has had to deal with the current problems, "I think he is doing the best job humanly possible, but there are some obvious flaws in his campaign and the war on terror," she said. She said that, in the Tri-Cities, organizations such as Nuclear Fuels and Eastman are potential targets, but she won't lose any sleep over it.
  When asked if local officials could handle a terrorist situation, Taylor said she isn't sure because she couldn't remember a time when there has been any kind of threat before, but she feels they could handle it okay if they had training. "It would be good if we could send some of our officials to Ground Zero so they could see what it's really like," said Taylor.
  Veronica Brock usually doesn't despise Republicans, but in Bush's case, she does. "I don't feel he is fully qualified to be where he is," she said.
  Retired from the Army, Richard Blevins has seen his fair share and isn't sure Bush could be doing anymore than he is already. When asked if he feels we are safe in the Tri-Cities area, Blevins said, "We're not really safe everywhere, but people could prepare a little bit, be observant, maybe keep cameras with them, keep a record, notice people and activities of things that are unusual or different." Blevins feels sure local officials could handle a terror situation.
  Bush is doing a good job in fighting terror, according to Gary Greene, of Elizabethton. A retired police officer, none of the newest threats shock him. "Go about your everyday life, and be sure of who you're voting for; listen for what they stand for," he said.
  Overall, there were mixed reactions to the most recent terror threat. Some feel no matter what we do we can't win a "religious" war. Citizens of Elizabethton and local officials seem aware of the threats, but they are not willing to give in to the terrorists and plan to continue normal everyday life.