Brussels bombing worries Heartland families, affects travel

Heartland families turn to social media to keep tabs on family in Belgium

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The Brussels bombings are affecting traveling and have many family members and friends of travelers worried.

Officials said at least 20 were killed at the Maelbeek metro station and 10 at Brussels Airport on Tuesday, March 22.

Traveling Consultant Leigh Segraves said she has family in the country right now. She said the current status of traveling has changed dramatically for airlines.

"Domestic travelers in the United States are advised to allow for at least two hours to get through airport security screenings at U.S. airports," Segraves said. "With spring break travel already resulting in delays at TSA screening, sometimes significantly, it will be even more crucial for travelers to give themselves plenty of time."

Segraves goes on to say that an emergency message sent from the U.S. Embassy in Brussels reminds U.S. citizens that Belgium is at a threat rating of Level 4, which means "serious and imminent attacks."

The message went on to urge U.S. citizens in Belgium to:

  1. Be aware of local events
  2. Follow local authority instructions
  3. Monitor local media for further developments
  4. Take appropriate steps to bolster your personal security

She said American Airlines also issued the following statement for those traveling with them:

"Situation in Brussels

Cape Girardeau Fire Marshal Brian Shaffer said he and his girlfriend Beth Adkins traveling across different countries annually.

Instructor of Geography at Southeast Missouri State University Beth Adkins said their philosophy is to not stand out.

"There is that sense of security until something major happens," Adkins said.

In May, Adkins and Shaffer will travel to turkey, Shaffer said staying aware at all times is key for both of them.

He said he would still try to implement these precautions, but more so today because of the recent bombings.

"We keep our head on a swivel, we're always looking around trying to make sure that there's no one following us, you know as much as possible trying to find out any problems that may occur," Shaffer said. "We try to talk in a very low key voice, we don't like to advertise that we're from the United States, we don't wear ball caps or shirts or anything t-shirts that say United States or any baseball teams, football teams, anything like that. We try to blend in with the people as much as possible with the people from that country."

He said Facebook and social media are a great way to let family and friends know that you are okay.

In May, Shaffer and Southeast Missouri State University professor Beth Adkins will be traveling Turkey.

"Istanbul, Turkey which got to admit we're a little bit concerned about that," Shaffer  said. "There was just a recent bombing last week from ISIS in Istanbul and I think there was one in January. I think there were about 10 tourists killed, maybe, I think at the blue mosque; and we're going to be only staying 15, 20 minutes away walking distance from the blue mosque in Istanbul so we're concerned about it more so than usual."

Adkins said they will have to change planes in Brussels which is where the bombings were today, but she thinks by mid may everything should be normalized so she doesn't expect traveling to that airport will be an issue."

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