By Umut Newbury
Originally published Thursday, September 13, 2011
The attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. caused authorities to take heightened security measures even in Wise County Tuesday.
As the Wise County Messenger was being printed Tuesday, national television networks reported four commercial airline planes being hijacked by suicide bombers on the East Coast.
Two of the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, causing both towers of the building to collapse; one crashed into a wing of the Pentagon and the last crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pa.
Early reports indicate hundreds, if not thousands of fatalities and injuries in New York City and Washington, D.C., combined.
In Wise County, the sheriff’s department sent deputies to each school in the county to do security checks, said Sgt. Robin Melton, public information officer.
“We asked them if they wanted to stay open or close for the day,” Melton said. “The schools left it up to the students and let those who wanted to, go home.”
The sheriff’s deputies also checked with all the area airports for suspicious planes.
“There shouldn’t be anyone flying at all. We are in a no fly zone,” she said.
Brian Engel, director of public affairs for Mitchell Energy and Development Corporation, said the company increased security on all plants.
“The first thing we did early today when we heard about what happened was to heighten the security,” Engel said.
Mitchell Energy’s corporate headquarters were not evacuated in the Woodlands.
“There has been serious evacuation in downtown Houston,” Engel said, “but we are operating in our offices…I can’t say as usual, but we are here.”
George Jackson, region operations manager for Mitchell Energy in Bridgeport, said the company would follow the authorities in security measures.
“We are too flabbergasted to think of anything else right now,” Jackson said.
Sheriff Phil Ryan also increased the patrol around the Mitchell Energy plant in Bridgeport and the Lake Bridgeport Dam.
“We feel helpless in not knowing exactly what to do during this crisis, except for prayer,” said Ryan.
People trying to locate loved ones that they believe could have been in any of the affected areas are encouraged to contact the American Red Cross Family Well-being Injury line toll-free at 1-(877) 746-4964.
Look for more of WCMessenger.com’s special 9/11 tribute at www.wcmessenger.com/911.