Public safety officials observe advisory

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Saddam Hussein vowed Monday night to fight to the end, and as U.S. troops await the order to strike, the United States’ Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced Tuesday morning that America stands ready for war. He also stated, &uot;Operation Liberty Shield’ has been launched.&uot;

Operation Liberty Shield is a comprehensive national plan designed to increase protections for America’s citizens and infrastructure. It also maintains the free flow of goods and people across our border with minimal disruption to the economy and the American way of life, Ridge explained.

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It is a multi-department, multi-agency, national team effort, focusing on stronger transportation protections, and ongoing measures to disrupt threats against our nation.

&uot;These heightened security measures will help deter terrorism and increase protection of America and Americans,&uot; said Ridge. &uot;In the meantime, as on the other occasions when the national threat level has been increased, we encourage members of the public to continue their daily work, family and leisure activities with a heightened awareness.&uot;

In Suffolk, Captain Jim Judkins, the city’s emergency management coordinator, also said no one should panic, but instead be prepared.

&uot;We don’t want people to seal themselves into their home with Duct tape and plastic, but it is best to prepare for this like any other emergency,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;You can do that by having ready a change of clothes, sleeping bags, and food and water. A gallon of water per person per day should be enough. Canned and dried foods are easy to store and prepare.&uot;

Police Major Richard Hurd said the Suffolk Police Department is beefing up security across the city.

&uot;We have increased security patrols at all areas that could be possible targets,&uot; said Hurd. &uot;That includes the Portsmouth water plant on Holland Road, public buildings, utility companies, and plants like Ciba. They have their own security measures, but they coordinate their efforts with ours. The water plant belongs to the City of Portsmouth but we work with Portsmouth and Norfolk on securing the Holland Road site.&uot;

Police will also be scrutinizing more closely the personal identification of any persons visiting public buildings in Suffolk.

Hurd said Suffolk police officers have been highly trained to recognize possible terrorist activities, fraudulent criminal activities, and any type of suspicious behavior. Still, law enforcement can always use help from the public sector.

&uot;We would like to urge the people of Suffolk to be aware of their surroundings and be alert for any unusual or suspect activities,&uot; said the major. &uot;We want them to call 911, or call dispatch at 923-2350, to report anything out of the ordinary. They could also call the Anti-terrorist Task Force at 455-0100. We are doing everything in our power to ensure the safety of the entire city and its population.&uot;

The major also noted that morale is high at the police department, with the officers in full support of the president and his ultimatum to Hussein.

Faye Byrum, the executive director of the local Chapter of the American Red Cross, said people should always be prepared for any type of disaster to strike. As she noted, fires and floods displace people most often and they certainly qualify as disasters.

&uot;Our advice is to start now by gathering basic emergency supplies including a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, prescription medicines and toilet articles,&uot; said Byrum. &uot;Also, have on hand the Duct tape and heavy-duty plastic garbage bags that can be used to seal windows and doors once official notification goes out. Make sure all household members know where the kit is kept. You should also consider bringing a disaster supply kit to work or leaving one in your car.&uot;

Byrum said there are other ways to plan ahead including taking a first aid and CPR class so that emergency medical help is there whenever and wherever needed.

For additional disaster preparedness information, call Tim Brown, the community disaster education volunteer for the Red Cross in Suffolk, at 539-6645. Also, the Suffolk Chapter Red Cross, located downtown on Clay Street, has available many brochures on the subject.

She suggested that people review insurance policies to reduce the economic impact of a potential disaster. Also, remember to make accommodations for elderly family members, neighbors, and those with special needs. Also, try to make arrangements for pets not allowed in public shelters.