Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Feelings of Terror, Sadness, Anger Grip the First Coast Businesses Close, Agencies Plot Strategy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Feelings of Terror, Sadness, Anger Grip the First Coast Businesses Close, Agencies Plot Strategy

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler, Times-Union staff writer

Confused airline passengers wept and prayed at Jacksonville International Airport. Anxious moms picked up their kids from school. Edgy police and city officials devised strategy behind closed doors. Broken-hearted donors poured blood into bags. Vigilant sailors moved the USS John F. Kennedy toward New York. Mournful business owners closed their shops. Shocked viewers stared at televisions, wherever they could find them.

People throughout Northeast Florida yesterday were gripped by a sense of terror never before felt in their lives as they watched the monstrous attacks unfold at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. There was amazement. Anxiety. And much, much anger.

"I want us to find out who is responsible and wipe them off the face of the Earth," said Buck Buchanan, 61, watching the collapse of the second World Trade Center tower on television at an Arlington business. "From the face of the Earth."

Vivian Sciascia, returning from New York to Fort Lauderdale after visiting family, was worried about her nieces and nephews who work near the World Trade Center.

Sciascia's plane was among 25 that made emergency landings at JIA because of the attacks. She and about 3,000 others were evacuated from the airport when it was closed for security concerns.

"I can't imagine how many hundreds of people died," said the teary-eyed Sciascia, shaking her head in disbelief as she waited outside for a bus to South Florida. "It's a tragedy."

Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney said there is "no credible evidence" that the city would be a target of further terrorism.

"Clearly this is a moment of national tragedy that is probably only rivaled by the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941," Delaney said.

Sheriff Nat Glover said police placed on heightened alert, ensuring all vehicles are fueled and personnel are ready for any emergency. The city also opened its emergency operations center and will do so for the next two days, Delaney said.

Public schools in Northeast Florida remained open, though a steady stream of parents took their children home early. Principals and teachers discussed yesterday's events but tried to make students feel safe and calm. Some youths cried when they first heard the news. Then, they comforted one another.

"I don't really know what to feel," eighth-grader Alex Elton said after his teacher at Darnell-Cookman Middle School in Jacksonville spoke about the tragedy. "It's just so confusing. Why someone would do that I don't know. I'm just a kid, how I am supposed to understand this?"

Classes were canceled at the University of North Florida and Florida Community College at Jacksonville.

Edward Waters College remained open until a 2 p.m. chapel service, when President Jimmy Jenkins announced the cancellation of classes. …

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