Terror strikes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Before many people in Butler County had left home for work Tuesday morning, tragedy was on the news n the World Trade Center had been again attacked by terrorists.

During what seemed to be a normal day on The Today Show with Matt Lauer and Katie Couric, suddenly the news broke to a live shot via helicopter of a column of thick black smoke coming from all sides of the World Trade Center Tower One in New York City.

Americans stood in shock as newscasters and reporters in helicopters delivered eyewitness accounts of a jet airliner crashing into one of the greatest wonders of the modern world, and one of the five tallest buildings on Earth.

And as speculative minds were wondering if this was a repeat terrorist attack, like the bombing of the same buildings in 1993, Americans and viewers around the world witnessed an even greater shock. A second jet airliner, traveling at hundreds of miles-per-hour, flew on a direct path and crashed, in a fiery explosion into the second tower.

The second plane, darting out of sight just before impact, flew out of view of the camera, and suddenly slammed into the second building in a fireball of enormous force and magnitude.

Within minutes America witnessed what all were hoping against

the second 110-story-building, dissected by the jet's explosion, collapsed to the ground.

As rescue efforts were shifted from evacuation to search and rescue beneath the rubble of the first collapse, the other towering structure collapsed, beside her ominous twin sister's pile of debris.

The impact was quickly felt around the world n America had been attacked, in what experts are likening to the attack on Pearl Harbor n when no one was expecting it.

On a more local scale, flags around Butler County were lowered to half-mast in honor of all of those American lives lost in the largest tragedy in American history. Air traffic in Greenville, just like every airport in the country, was halted.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, The Greenville Advocate was contacted by Gov. Don Siegelman's Press Secretary, Carrie Kurlander.

"Gov. Siegelman has ordered the Alabama National Guard to be placed on alert, and has activated the State Emergency Operating Center," Kurlander said. "Security has been heightened at the Capitol Complex and at the Alabama Statehouse.

"Governor Siegelman has asked for the people of Alabama to say a special prayer for the victims of this cowardly act."

Kurlander said the governor was flying to Washington, D.C. this morning to voice his concerns about the incineration of chemical weapons in Anniston, Ala. and his plane was ordered to land in South Carolina.

"The governor is safe, and will remain in constant contact with his agency heads and staff," she said.

Locally, people, as in the tradition of Butler Countians, have been flooding the Butler County Emergency Communications District (E-911) with calls, inquiring about how and where to help nationwide efforts.

"We have received numerous calls from people offering to help," said Janice Stamps, director of E-911. "We have been in contact with the American Red Cross (ARC) of Alabama, and there will be a blood drive organized in Butler County next week in response to the national call for blood donations."

Jennifer Moorer, public relations director with the ARC of Central Alabama, said before noon on Tuesday that she wanted the people of Central Alabama to know that their Red Cross was working to aid those in need.

"It is important that our community knows that the Red Cross is on the job; moreover, our local citizens can help," Moorer said. "Everyone who is eligible to donate blood (at least 110-lbs., 17-years-old and older, in general good health and have not donated blood within the past 56 days) can come to the American Red Cross, the only blood bank in this area that is a part of a nationwide' network, and donate even if they have never donated blood before.

"While we take care of Alabama and its needs first, needed blood also will be sent to areas of need," she said.

There is also a contact line open, stressed by Moorer as "for immediate family members only." Those in the directly affected areas should continue to try to make direct contact with their loved ones; also family members may contact the American Red Cross at 334-260-3980.

Also, as The Greenville Advocate went to press on Tuesday evening, word was widespread throughout the area of organized prayer vigils being held.

"We are shutting down our business to hold a prayer vigil in the restaurant at 7 p.m. Tuesday," said Pizza Hut Manager Wanda Harrell. "This is a terrible tragedy, and we just want to give back to our community."

Also at press time, the governor's office was contacted, and The Advocate was told that Governor Siegelman was back in Montgomery, safely taken by ground transportation from South Carolina.