February 8, 2003 at 2:48 AM CST - Updated June 17 at 6:17 AM
Heightened Terror Alert Could Affect Heartland By: Kate Scott
In raising the terror alert level, the government is warning Americans to be prepared.But what does that mean for people in the Heartland?
To get that answer, Heartland News talked to local U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson, who's also on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.Emerson was in Washington D.C. on Friday, where she said she'd already seen some security changes at the Capitol, though she hadn’t heard of any specific terrorist threats.“We haven't been told of anything specific at home, in the Eighth District of Missouri, in the rest of the state, or even anywhere in the Washington area,” she told Heartland News.“It’s just that there's been heightened chatter through intelligence that things might occur in the United States.”
But Emerson says that unspecific threat could once again make some specific security changes here in the Heartland, including at local airports.“They may restrict some of the parking temporarily until this alert is lifted,” she listed.“So you may not be able to get up so close to the airport.”Emerson said parking restrictions could also be reinstated at federal buildings, like the Cape Girardeau Courthouse. As for police and highway patrol officers, they're now being asked to report where they are at all times, just in case they have to be called in for a disaster.
So where does that leave the rest of us?“The Homeland Security Department has suggested that all people just be prepared in the event of any kind of possible biological or chemical situation in their community,” Emerson relayed.Besides being alert to anything suspicious, she suggested that people might want to keep extra food and water supplies at home. And you should know how to reach family members in the event that you ever lose phone service, perhaps by arranging an emergency meeting place.
But keep in mind that getting prepared for a worst-case scenario doesn't mean your daily routines should have to change. Emerson says you should respond to the high terror alert as you would to the threat of a natural disaster:you make your plans, you hope you never have to use them, and you go on living as normal.“If we stop our daily routine, then we've allowed any kind of terrorist to win,” Emerson stated.“We can't do that.”
If you would like to learn more about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the department’s recommendations, you can click on the following link: www.dhs.gov