Thursday, September 13, 2001

Blasts shake community’s peace of mind

Published in the Current

Radios and televisions in Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth were tuned to the same stations Tuesday morning. Even Burger King employees had the news on, rather than the energetic music that gets them through their shifts.

Aside from that, there was an unearthly silence. After-school activities were cancelled, government buildings around the country were closed, and even the Maine Mall in South Portland shut its doors. But perhaps the strangest view in Maine was overhead.

“It’s weird seeing no planes,” said Kim Mathieu of Scarborough.

Before the planes were grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration, two of the alleged terrorists flew on a U.S. Airways flight from Portland International Jetport to Boston, where
they boarded cross-country flights which were later hijacked, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Judy Hill of Maple Street in Scarborough works at the Oak Hill Dry Cleaners. One of her customers Tuesday dropped off his wife’s United Airlines flight attendant uniforms. She was safe
on the ground in Georgia. Everyone, who came in Hill said, was struck by
the tragedy.

“You just see their faces and the hurt,” Hill said.

She was stunned to hear the news just before 9 a.m. Tuesday morning.

“I just had to take a deep breath and say a prayer,” she said. “I don’t know how those people are really going to get over this. It’s horrible.”

She was impressed by the efforts of rescue personnel in New York, and said President Bush faces a big challenge.

“I think President Bush has got a hard evening ahead of him,” she said.

Mathieu, whose brother is in New York, was concerned about what Bush and other leaders might decide.

“I don’t want to see anything crazy happen,” she said.

Her husband Tony echoed her concern, adding that the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. could lead to further terrorism.

“It makes me wonder how many people this is going to set off,” he said.

One person set off by the tragedy was Tim, who wore a Scarborough School Department uniform shirt but would not give his last name.

“We’ve been fighting these son-of-a-guns for years,” he said, insisting that the terrorism was the work of international agents bent on taking away Americans’ privately owned weapons.

“The United Nations is responsible for this whole thing,” he said.

Esther MacDuffie of Berry Road in Scarborough was more reserved.

“It’s very difficult to get an opinion because it’s so horrifying,” she said. Her son lives in New York and she hadn’t heard from him yet, because the phone lines were jammed.

She was concerned about security procedures, especially at airports.

“I feel as if somebody somewhere slipped up,” MacDuffie said.

A woman who asked to be identified only as Pamela was concerned less about what had happened than with what would.

“I’ll be interested to know what they do about it,” she said. “It’s a very very very bad day. Nothing
feels the same.”

The initial reaction was for people to check in with loved ones, even if there was no chance
they had been in danger.

“I’ve gotten like 400 calls from my mom,” Pamela said. She works in Scarborough and her mother lives in Windham.

Beyond news of the events themselves, the television news footage was stunning and disturbing
to people.

“I haven’t seen it yet, and I’m not sure I want to,” Pamela said.

Hill had seen the pictures in the morning before coming to work, but said she was near tears all

“I couldn’t watch it again tonight,” she said.

Tuesday night Cornerstone Baptist Church in Scarborough held a prayer service in the aftermath
of the tragedy. About 100 people attended, according to church officials, who noted the
church will be holding evening services Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, beginning with
a prayer session at 6:30 p.m. and a service starting at 7 p.m.

A blood drive was held Wednesday at the Maine Blood Center on Professional Drive in
Scarborough. At press time, 325 people had turned out to donate blood, according to Diane
Richard at the blood center.

Food had been donated by several local residents and businesses, she said.