'I don't think I've ever sensed this level of fear'-- Greg Walden

Nation reels from tragedy

When unknown terrorists staged an unprecedented attack on the east coast early Tuesday morning, it sent shock waves roiling across the country.

"I think all of us are in a total state of shock and disbelief, this is an incredible tragedy," said U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who was at a press conference on the capital grounds in Washington, D.C. when tragedy struck only blocks away.

"We were just starting to see the smoke from the Pentagon and the next thing I knew we looked up and saw a commercial airliner bank over the capital and then national security officials told us to seek cover," said Walden. "I don't think I've ever sensed that level of fear before."

U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith was also in his federal office when the Pentagon was damaged and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, N.Y. were destroyed. He immediately sent his staffers to safety and attended a briefing with capital police and fellow legislators to discuss how to ensure that the "unknown enemy" didn't earn a further victory by disrupting the "business of the people" any longer than necessary.

Both Walden and Smith said the freedom and openness of American society has always been its greatest asset but, in this case, had also proven to be its greatest weakness. They said future debates among government leaders would have to address how to protect civil liberties while better protecting citizens.

"I think without a doubt there was a failure of the intelligence communiuty to detect an attack this monumental and the American people are owed answers," said Smith.

On Tuesday federal House and Senate officials showed their resolve to get back to work by setting up secure meeting sites around the capital.

"This is an unknown enemy, an enemy without boundaries, who has proven there is no place that is safe but, undoubtedly, we can make our country safer," said Smith. "I think this is one of those moments when time stands still and the horror fo the moment is forever embedded in our minds."

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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