Tollbooth worker sees ‘we’re vulnerable’

Like many Americans on the West Coast, Loyd Crown was busy getting ready for work on the ill-fated morning of Sept. 11.

Only what began as his typical ritual of watching the morning news over a cup of coffee rapidly turned into a living nightmare. Crown, like millions of his fellow citizens, watched in spellbound horror as two hijacked planes crashed into the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

“I think we were all just dumfounded that something like that could happen,” said Crown.

But duty called and Crown reluctantly left the news coverage to report in for his early shift at the Hood River Tollbridge. He said many motorists crossing that morning were unaware of the terrorist attacks on the East Coast because they had been traveling without a radio on. However, as the morning events unfolded, Crown said it became clear from the downcast faces that the news had finally caught up with hundreds of people making the crossing. He also kept his ear tuned to the continual broadcasts that heralded more tragedies, the collapse of the Twin Towers and the targeting of the Pentagon by a third hijacked jet.

With between 6,000-7,000 cars crossing each day, Crown said there was not a lot of time to share information but the mood of the day was clearly conveyed by the serious demeanor of all citizens.

“Most of the people who had seen the news were really somber that day,” he said. “I think it opened their eyes, just like it did mine, that we’re vulnerable.”

Within the next two days Crown said the true reaction to the worst attack on American soil became evident. Hundreds of people dropped off flags and patriotic posters on their way over the bridge, many of which still line the walls of the booth. An increasing number of cars passed by waving the stars and stripes and flag decals and “United We Stand” decals and bumper stickers were clearly evidenced. Crown also said the generosity of Americans was shown by the willingness to donate an extra quarter to the donation box that had been set up at the booth to raise money for the Red Cross to use in its 9-11 relief programs.

“I think Sept. 11 brought people a lot closer together, we were a long way away from it but it was just like it happened right here,” Crown said.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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