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Terrorism here? Just be ready



Published: Mon, November 19, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Terrorismhere? Justbe ready

The Mahoning Valley could be a target for terrorists looking to strike in America's heartland, a local emergency official said.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- They've attacked in New York City and Washington, D.C. Could the Mahoning Valley be the next target for terrorists?

"As long as we're a part of the continental U.S., we've got to be as concerned as everybody else," said Walter Duzzny, the director of the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency.

He added that the Valley could serve as a target for terrorists looking to claim they struck in America's heartland.

"You can't get more into the heart of America than the seven states in the Midwest," he said.

Dick Kimmins, Ohio EMA spokesman, noted that his agency thinks all Ohio residents and public officials should plan for the possibility of a terrorist attack. The EMA doesn't single out areas of the state as targets, he said.

"It would be foolhardy to do so," Kimmins said. "It is an unpredictable type of phenomenon."

It's not over: Duzzny also stressed that the threat of another terrorist attack in America isn't going to end just because the Taliban are pushed out of Afghanistan.

He warned local residents not to drop their guard just because of the Taliban's retreat.

"These people want to kill us," he said. "Because they want to kill us, we have to be prepared to deal with issues, and they don't have to be in the Middle East."

Col. Chuck Coleman, the Ohio Army National Guard's representative to the Mahoning EMA, said that though he thinks the chances of a terrorist attack in the Valley are low, "a day after tomorrow, that might change."

Clark Jones, the planning and operations coordinator for the county EMA, added that he wouldn't rank the Valley in the top 10 of potential targets.

He added, however, that as the home to an Air Force station, Youngstown State University and hospitals that train doctors, the Valley does have some vulnerabilities. The EMA and local safety forces are working to protect the vulnerable areas, he said.

How to prepare: Duzzny, meanwhile, recommended that local residents prepare for a terrorist attack or other disaster, such as winter storm, by setting aside enough food, water and other supplies to survive for 72 hours.

They also should find a location outside their neighborhood where they can go in case of an attack, he said.

Duzzny also said business officials should prepare by determining what resources they would need to operate if their company's facility were destroyed.

Business officials also should have copies of their customer lists available after an attack so that they could inform their customers of any delays in service.

Duzzny added that local residents shouldn't "bunker up" in fear, however.

"We don't need them [the public] to walk around with gas masks and weapons," he said. "We can't take to arms in the streets."

hill@vindy.com




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